A century-old brick building long used for prop storage and set construction is now an open and bright home to offices, a gallery, and space for art and events.
In less than two years, the 11,000-square-foot structure at 623 S. Main St. -- once home to retail businesses and a fire station -- has transformed into the ARTSpace on Main. A project of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, the mixed-use building features gallery and event space, and facilities for educational and community programming.
ASC recently opened a retail gallery in the ARTSpace and is also making the facility available to rent for private functions, according to a news release.
The building supplements ASC's main building at 701 S. Main St. Along with ART WORKS on Main, 627 S. Main St., the three facilities comprise ASC's new "ARTx3" campus and initiative.
The ARTSpace project was made possible by $2.5 million grant from the Windgate Foundation.
Pressed tin ceiling tiles downstairs, original hardwood floors upstairs, and a preserved indoor advertising mural are character-filled reminders of the building's past life. New features include glass-paned garage doors separating the spaces, and a striking outdoor staircase.
"I am excited to just see the surprised or 'Oh, wow' expression on visitors' faces when they walk in through the doors and see the creative use of old and new features of the buildings," ASC Executive Director Rachel Miller said. "After the first impression, visitors then realize that the ARTSpace and ART WORKS provide diverse opportunities for community engagement. That is what makes me happy -- knowing visitors realize that the ARTSpace and ART WORKS are arts plus events spaces for the community."
Visitors to the ARTSpace enter through the Windgate Community Gallery, a retail space featuring art, books and gifts by local and regional artists. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
ARTSpace gallery assistant Kayla Earnest greets visitors.
"There is definitely a community feel to the Windgate Community Gallery," Earnest said. "I also get to meet all of the people who come to view the artwork and tell them about the different artists. Visitors also have the opportunity to make a purchase and take a little bit of the gallery home with them."
Artists with work for sale include Dustyn Bork, Cathy Burns, Jerry Colburn, Creative Cords Macrame, Richard Davies, Gerry Delongchamp, Scinthya Edwards, Kimiara Johnson, John Kushmaul, Myriad of Mischief jewelry and Torri Richardson. Items and artists are being added on a continual basis.
Community members also have opportunities to create their own art, with a number of hands-on workshops scheduled. These include an abstract sculpture workshop with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Jonathan Wright on Thursdays. Teen and adult workshops in lamp-working -- the art of fashioning objects from glass tubing using a torch -- are set for Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, respectively.
More classes are in the works, said Rhodes Daigle, the new public programs coordinator at the ARTSpace on Main.
"We are planning to diversify our workshops to include more mediums," he said. "As of now, we are focusing on visual arts but I am working on getting some meditation, yoga, or tai chi workshops started. Another project that I am looking forward to is an improv or comedy workshop in our black box theater."
The ARTSpace and ART WORKS facilities are also available to rent. Because of the flexible layout of the ARTSpace and ART WORKS design, the public spaces can accommodate a variety of rental events, Miller said.
"The Loft Gallery in the ARTSpace is perfect for wedding rehearsal dinners or baby shower parties. The Kline Family Foundation Event Gallery provides a great location for meetings and presentations. The ART WORKS lobby is ideal for a cocktail party."
High-level ASC members and sponsors receive discounts, according to the news release.
In response to interest to photograph at the new buildings, ASC is also offering hourly rentals for photo shoots.
"All the spaces make for a funky or elegant background for any photo shoot," Miller said.
More information about The ARTSpace gallery, programs, and rentals is available at asc701.org/artspace or (870) 536-3375.