Friday, December 31, 2010

As pricey live/work artist spaces arise in Jackson, what's in store for the rest of the state?

Planet Jackson Hole's JH Weekly at least once a week due to the fact that its header demands it. I also like alternative weeklies. I used to edit and write for one. You read stories there that you don't find in MSM.

I missed the Dec. 21 article by Teton County wise-guy art critic Aaron Wallis. It's about a new live/work development for artists by architect Stephen Dynia in Jackson. You can read the whole thing at JH Weekl

Here are some excerpts:
The development is now under construction and when completed it will total eight units in two buildings. As of press time, three of the eight units have been sold.

The units are supposed to be affordable and from what I can tell, Dynia and Prugh did everything within their power to keep the price down. Unfortunately, the units are still in the $400s. Which, is again, affordable for Jackson, but that’s like saying the $10 burrito at Pica’s is a good deal just because everything else is in town is equally overpriced.

The project’s vision ­– to create a space where artists can live and work ­– is laudable. I know Tom Woodhouse would move into the Center for the Arts if they would let him. Seriously, why are residential and commercial space always zoned separately? Why not eliminate the necessity of commuting? Commuting by its very nature is a waste of time and resources. What’s the point of driving back and forth from Wilson to Jackson twice a day? It’s a colossal waste of gas, but I guess as long as there’s a “Please Don’t Idle” sticker on your SUV, it’s OK.

Anyway, if I had $400k, I would definitely consider moving in 1085 Broadway. What could be better than having artists for neighbors, creating in a clean modern space, and living in Jackson Hole? Well a Range Rover and a trust fund would be nice, but we can’t all be so lucky. I asked my Magic 8-Ball if the new development would change the art scene in Jackson.  “Signs point to yes,” it replied.
Live/work spaces "in the $400s" are a bit pricey for most artists and writers of my acquaintance. But that price is pretty reasonable in Teton County. Here's some recent info from Trulia:
There are currently 323 resale and new homes in Jackson on Trulia, including 3 homes in the pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank-owned stages of the foreclosure process. The average listing price for homes for sale in Jackson WY was $2,153,991 for the week ending Dec 22, which represents an increase of 0.4%, or $9,134, compared to the prior week.
Wowzir! Now we're talking real money.

Other live/work spaces have attempted to get off the ground in Wyoming. Project planners from ArtSpace in Minneapolis have advised arts groups in Casper and have conducted workshops in Sheridan ("Living Upstairs in Wyoming") and in Cheyenne ("Arts Summit 2008"). ArtSpace bills itself as the largest non-profit real estate management company for the arts in the U.S. As of this writing, it hasn't come up with any solid projects in the state. But it does have one in Billings.

I've been looking into an ArtSpace project called The Arts Exchange in Tallahassee. Yes, that's in Florida and nowhere near the Great Wide Open. I was in Tallahassee with family a few weeks ago and decided to take a look. The site now houses an old warehouse. It's located next to the Railroad Square Art Park and close to downtown, Florida A&M and Florida State. My sister Maureen and I drove there on graduation Saturday in December. Not much to see except potential at the Arts Exchange site. A few galleries and stores were open in the arts district. Nowhere near as lively as it is on its First Friday celebrations, which includes drinking and revelry and arts and music.

At the art park, we wandered into the South of Soho Art Co-op where Stephen Bennett was minding the store. He's from Daytona, our family's old stomping grounds, so we visited for awhile. I liked his work and the work of his colleagues on the walls. We went into the hippy-dippy Athena's Garden, with its array of herbs and teas and tinctures. The two young women minding the store were from Boulder, which didn't surprise me. The back room featured clothes and purses and hemp products, along with Wiccan stuff. My daughter Annie would have loved the place. Maureen bought her a peace sign purse. We visited the Cosmic Cat which was just the place for my son Kevin. It features manga and zines and graphic novels.

I'm interested in The Arts Exchange because it looks like a nice place to live in my artistic retirement. Not sure if I'd qualify. I plan an active post-65 life, creating fiction and also advising arts groups. For that, I have 25-some years in arts administration. The Arts Exchange will be home to the Boys' Choir of Tallahassee, the Tallahassee Ballet, and the Council on Culture & Arts. Arts orgs always ned an extra hand or grants writer. Tallahassee also puts Chris and I close to our families.

What will happen with live/work spaces in Wyoming? Well, there's one project already being built in Jackson. Not sure what will arise in Cheyenne or Laramie or Sheridan or Casper or Meeteetse. The potential is there. Someone -- or some group -- must do the planning.

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