Studio Space Ottawa Needs our Help to Breathe Beautiful New Life into a Former Industrial Building
ABOVE: Ada Bzreski, Studio Space Ottawa co-founder and treasurer, at the Kaladar Avenue artist studios. (PHOTO: OLM Staff)
An industrial building on Kaladar Avenue, a stone's throw from the intersection of Bank Street and Herron Avenue, has a new lease on life. Many will recall attending birthday parties or fun family nights at Midway—the indoor playground was a hit with kids. The massive space was the furthest thing from a cultural destination, but the building's new tenants are working to change that, one artist studio at a time.
A retro-looking bumper car in the front entrance is all that remains from the previous tenant. Up on the second floor, Studio Space Ottawa (SSO) has converted the area into individual workshops where local artists can rent a place to create their art in the tranquility of their own room. They can shut their door and focus or leave it wide open to draw inspiration or inspire their fellow artist.
An all-volunteer board runs the artists' space, a home for arts and culture in the city, with artists from their early 20s to 80s working away at the location. The site is not simply a place for painting, sculpting, creating textiles, multimedia art, and photography; it has the vibe of an art gallery in progress. There are completed works everywhere, some mounted on the walls, some sitting patiently in the hallway waiting to be shipped here or there and ultimately finding a special owner who will make the art a centrepiece in their home. SSO Co-founder and Treasurer, and a potter herself, Ada Bzreski, mentioned that while visiting a neighbour at the cottage, she noticed a painting in the living room that looked very familiar. It turns out it was purchased from a fellow SSO artist.
ABOVE: Studio Space Ottawa artists Shannon Morphew and Ada Bzreski. (PHOTO: OLM Staff)
The studios themselves are a delight for the creative. Artist Shannon Morphew was in-studio the day we visited and explained that the space is quiet and accessible 24/7, so coming and going at different hours is no problem. The group has ensured that each studio has two electrical sockets and proper lighting — this may seem like a small detail, but it is a must-have for an artist. Some of the rooms on the exterior walls have windows and an abundance of natural light. A former kitchen with industrial-sized metal sinks has been converted into a communal cleaning area for paintbrushes with a place for sustainable disposal of products like paint thinners.
With developers toppling old buildings and turning them into high-priced condos, the need for affordable creative space for artists has never been greater. Studio Space Ottawa is doing its best to keep up, but demand is high, and the waiting list currently includes 70 people looking for a creative space of their own.
There is plenty more room for these artists at SSO, but the additional space needs to be divided, the wall built, and the electrical installed, and unfortunately, this cost money. Lots of money.
To raise much-needed funds, SSO is throwing a Warehouse Party on Friday, May 5, 2023, in a large room that is ready to be converted into the next ten studios. The event promises to be a fun night and a great opportunity to get out and be a part of the arts scene in Ottawa.
An take part is precisely what is in store. Ada is setting up a potter's wheel so participants get their hands dirty and throw some clay. There will be a paint station where guests can make their own creations under the guidance of the artists. In addition, a giant-sized canvas has been stretched, and everyone will be invited to contribute to creating a community painting. The night will include a cash bar with food and drinks, live vocal performances, and a DJ.
ABOVE: Anna Frlan's steel sculpture In Situ Nest (two-part sculpture) 2018 and Susan Cartwright's framed lino print Humpback, Antarctica 2019 are being raffled off, with proceeds going to fund the construction of much-needed studios.
The event will also be a great opportunity to buy art as each artist is donating one of their creations. Priced at either $100 or $250, the artworks will be available for sale at studiospaceottawa.ca the week before the Warehouse Party and the night of the event. Two higher-priced pieces, a steel sculpture by Anna Frlan and a framed lino print by Susan Cartwright, are being raffled off. Tickets are on sale now for $50 each. The draw will take place the night of the Warehouse Party. Only 100 tickets are being sold, so get yours early! Click here.
For more information about the event, visit studiospaceottawa.ca or buy a ticket to find out for yourself while supporting local Ottawa artists!
When: Friday, May 5, 2023
Where: Studio Space Ottawa, 2447 Kaladar Avenue
What time: 6 pm – 10 pm
Admission: $25 • Click here to purchase tickets