Make it Rain(bow) - our first annual summer shindig, fundraiser, party to celebrate the stories of Studio Two Three - was a hit. But more than that, it was a reminder why we are here, why we do what we do, and why it matters. Studio Two Three provides a home for a creative community - a home that is made possible through gifts from generous individuals and grant funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Free Egunfemi shared her story of founding Untold RVA and printing her first-ever t-shirts at Studio Two Three. Nikko Dennis shared his story of starting fashion brand Chilalay to his now full-time gig making and selling fashion. Sophie Treppendahl shared her story of moving to Richmond, finding a home at Studio Two Three, and actually quitting her day job to become a full time artist. Connie Shumaker - aka Connie Troversial - shared her story of finding a safe space, a family and artistic support as an intern turned member.
I have written and re-written my version of the night a few times, and then realized, let me just turn it over to a real writer - member Jackie Ann Ruiz - and her Studio Two Three story, because she says it better than me:
Before I became a mom, I was a writer, illustrator and storyteller in the New York Alt Comedy scene. I lived in a studio apartment in deeeeep Brooklyn where I grew up, not cool Brooklyn with fun stuff. It was basically me and the old Russian couples, and it was still EXPENSIVE, so I was well below the poverty line, but I had the space and time to do the work I was trying to do, so that worked for me then.
One of the privileges of being born a white woman is that you’ve been taught to have a drive; and so you feel a little safer taking risks to make a career happen than if you were a woman of color. I just want to acknowledge that privilege here in front of a group of mostly white women; let’s feel our feelings in a safe space LOL. The acknowledgement of privilege and search for true equity is one of the things I love most about being a part of the Studio Two Three community and why I’m proud to call Ashley one of my best friends.
I fled New York and most of my career and creative community when my daughter Rocket was 7 months old; nooo one helps you carry a giant stroller up the subway steps, and a life where we had to rent a car to drive to the good grocery store was not the life for me. It was at a time when all of my friends in New York were getting famous and landing TV pilot deals, and all of my friends in Richmond were having babies. So we moved and for a few years I pretended that I wasn’t an artist anymore, mostly out of necessity. This didn’t work and I got very cranky when I realized that the new life I had created left very little space for me. My husband and I are both cycle-breakers, and so we don’t have our families in our lives. We literally parent in a bubble. All of the time.
I sold my book proposal to Random House last summer and was given nine months to write and illustrate it. My writing partner is the creator of Reductress.com (which is basically The Onion for women and if you don’t know it, please do yourself a favor and visit it because it will be the new light in your life). She’s also a mom, and her FT editor-in-chief job is unpaid; again, her privilege. That’s basically where we are at, as women. The privilege to be unpaid. ANYWAY She had full-time daycare already set up, and I had none, but now I had a deadline. I took my first book check and did two things immediately; I hired my first babysitter and I paid for a year of private studio space at 23. I felt like a baller.
Virginia Woolf said that a woman needs two things to write fiction, money and a room of one’s own. My book is a satirical feminist version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, not fiction, but that’s what I needed too. We are currently in final edits for a book that I really think can change the world for women, and I could not have written it, if not for Studio Two Three. My FORMER babysitter was part time, and not at all reliable. I worked whenever I could; sometimes surrounded by artists during the day, and sometimes my studio light was the only one on. in a big dark calm warehouse. Those are my favorite times, because I am a lone wolf, but in retrospect I am so glad that I had the option to come and work surrounded by other people doing their work, it sustained me when I got so tired and there was so much more work to do. BOOKS ARE LONG AND BABIES ARE A LOT and community has never been more important than it is now, for so many reasons.
When I needed to draw a picture of a woman farting on her husband during childbirth class, I came downstairs and asked another studio resident if I could use his face as the reference. When I needed coffee, someone had usually already made it. When I needed to bounce my ideas off of someone different than me, all I needed to do was look around and pick one. Studio Two Three is a rainbow of artists, writers, community advocates, mothers, fathers, newly-graduated artists, people of color, supporters, kids tromping through on field trips where they might learn for the first time that being creative can be a job and a way of life. I certainly didn’t learn that at home; I learned it in an 8-hour figure drawing class I took on Sundays which I paid for with stolen money out of my mom’s purse.
23 is the closest thing I’ve got to a tribe, something we are sorely missing in this world. It’s a tribe supporting creativity in all people, supporting empowerment and equity for the oppressed, elevating the voices of those who deserve to be heard and have their work seen and have space left for them and it has GENDERLESS bathrooms; this radical and inclusive detail is a great indicator of the human rights focus at the forefront of everything Studio Two Three does.
The truth is you’re just another group of kids tromping through on a field trip, so If you’re creative already, if you’ve always wanted to be, if you feel like your life doesn’t leave enough space for you to even decide what you’d most like to create, or if you’re just looking to be a part of an exciting and positive organization that’s doing all of these things for people in your community; there’s space for you here.
- Jackie Ann Ruiz
Author, Artist, Mother, Badass
Marc Cheatham, of the Cheats Movement podcast, approached us with an interesting proposition late last week. Email title: "Super Random Question" The question: "Can you put the tank on top of the monument base from the New Legacy t's for next week's live podcast?"
Rainbow flood? Be a part of a movement asking important questions on how we can work to reconcile Richmond and RVA? Plus make a funny joke about that time a tank drove down Broad Street? Yep. All in.
The only appropriate answer was "HELL YES."
We made the shirts happen and went to the sold-out recording of The Cheats Movement Live at 804rva where the shirts were given out to lucky guests (who demanded more - being printed as I type).
Guest Michael Paul Williams, of the Richmond Times Dispatch, spoke about the hard and urgent work we need to do to address gentrification, our schools, and police brutality in our community. Read Michael's column for the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Listen to the podcast below. It's funny, it's difficult, it's asking the questions we as Richmonders need to be asking to reconcile the divide between RVA and Richmond.
DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE NEW LEGACY TEE/HOODY?
"Celebrated artist Noah Scalin has teamed up with The Cheats Movement and released the New Legacy Hoodie and T-shirt to show support for the removal of Confederate statues from Monument Avenue in their hometown of Richmond, VA.
The mission is applicable in any location where Confederate monuments were erected to cause division and disharmony. And is a great way to show support and spark meaningful dialogue about this important topic. The hoodies and tees are on sale now: http://thecheatsmovement.bigcartel.com/
Part of the profits will be donated to the Richmond Peace Education Center so that they can continue their work educating our community on unity and inclusion. #WESEEIT"
Read more on thecheatsmovement.com
IF YOU'RE NOT FOLLOWING THE CHEATS MOVEMENT, YOU SHOULD!
The Cheats Movement is at the center of Hip-Hop culture and community activity. Here's how to follow:
DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE TIME A TANK DROVE DOWN BROAD STREET?
On Mother's Day weekend, 50 vendors hawked their wares at Studio Two Flea for mom's, pet moms, people who weren't moms at all. DJ Rattan spun tunes, Milk River Arts raised funds with a bake sale, tarot fortunes were read, guests commissioned cyanotypes portraits of Fido and FiFi, a grand time was had by all!
Stay tuned for A Late Summer Night's Flea - August 26th! An evening market with twinkle lights, music, local art and vintage wares under the light of the summer moon.
6 lady DJs cranked out their darkest tunes at Goth Spring, a fundraising dance party benefitting Studio Two Three.
They came, they danced, they wore lots of eye makeup. They connected with their dark side while supporting Richmond's nonprofit art studio.
More dance parties to come...
A (DARE-WE-SAY?) FUN BUSINESS CONFERENCE!
We hosted Burn Both Ends on May 4 and spent a day learning from small business owners, creative entrepreneurs, and having a daggone good time. It was great to see how our new event space can cater to a conference and even better to meet a hundred local movers and shakers learning how to improve their business hustle!
FROM THE ORGANIZERS:
As friends and frequent collaborators, the teams at The Content Chop Shop and Campfire & Co. combined their powers to develop educational and networking events that give young businesses the tools to grow. After a successful series of workshops in both Richmond and Norfolk, the trio of designers and marketers realized the need for more in-depth events that catered to a new generation of businesses. The Burn Both Ends all-day conference event was born.
We asked questions, we grappled with new ideas, we bared our souls a bit, and then celebrated the realness with a bit of moonshine and pink wine. All in all, we think that's a pretty fantastic way to spend a Friday.
Sad you missed it? Don't worry - we're planning another one! Make sure to get on our mailing list so you're the first to know.
Henrico High School commissioned artist (and S23 teacher) Brooke Inman to work with students to develop iconography representing the entire student population and their paths around the high school campus.
The students chose shoes as representation for groups of students - upperclassmen, lowerclassmen, art students, math lovers, etc. Once the plan was developed and data gathered, S23 To-Go spent the week at Henrico High printing the iconography to represent every student at the school WITH EVERY STUDENT AT THE SCHOOL!
Students were busy printing, cutting shoes, and planning the final product. What’s that, you ask?! An 8’x28’ wheat pasted mural of the iconography to be installed in the Commons of Henrico High!
You can swing by Studio Two Three Monday, June 3 between 11am and 5 pm to watch the wheat pasting in action - we will be working with teachers and the students on the Mural Committee to make this big awesome dream a reality!
Support for Studio Two Three programming is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and generous individuals.
This spring, we had the pleasure of collaborating with Free Egunfemi and Kelley Libby on Healthy, Wealthy + Wise, a project in public history, public art, and public media. The project was funded by Richmond Memorial Health Foundation's Health Equity Arts grants program.
There is an exhibit at VCU's The Depot, 814 West Broad Street. The exhibit displays the work of all of RMHF's HEArts grantees, and is open to the public until July 22, 2018.
Equity tops the list of RMHF’s values, but few people have a clear understanding of its meaning and importance. The word “health” generates an immediate mental image – perhaps a doctor with a stethoscope or a family growing a vegetable garden. But most people struggle to envision the word “equity.” In essence, public perception of this concept is a blank canvas. To fill that canvas, RMHF invited six local artists and artist collectives to create works of art that communicate the concept of equity and its significance to residents of the Richmond Region. The goal is to inspire and motivate change that embraces equity by tapping into the many forms of creative expression that are alive and thriving in the Richmond Region.
Through the Health Equity Arts, or HEArts, program, artists and artist collectives will receive an award of $10,000 to support their individual projects. They will also participate in periodic discussions to share their insights and progress with each other and Foundation staff. Their completed works will be exhibited at RMHF’s offices and other locations in the region.
Read more HERE
We had the distinct pleasure of hosting Richmond Women in Design for a visit and tour of Studio Two Three on May 22. These talented (and brave) women came to the studio on a walking tour despite a torrential downpour that was literally flooding the streets of Scott's Addition. Luckily, the studio had brand new rags (unused t-shirt scraps), some newly-washed towels (normally used for blotting etching paper dry for printing) and a roof to keep out the rain. I had the great pleasure of hearing about their professional pursuits, brainstorming potential collaborations, and discussing memberships with these creative humans. What fun!
Richmond Women in Design (RWiD) began in January 2010 to create a forum for women architects and professionals from allied fields to come together for education, mentorship, camaraderie, networking, community outreach, programs and research. We are affiliated with AIAVA’s Virginia Women in Design and a Committee of the Richmond Chapter of the AIA. Our members are architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, graphic designers and others involved in the designed environment. Events are typically scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month and the location revolves, depending on the program. Our membership is free, thanks to the support of our sponsors.
RWiD strives to create and foster a community of women in the professions serving the built environment who have come together for mentorship, support, and advocacy for women in design. We provide opportunities to educate, enhance, explore and celebrate the historic and present contributions of women in our professions through education, networking, outreach and professional development.
RWiD focuses on programs that encourage and inspire women to be active members of the design community, to learn about career paths and foster leadership development, and to make meaningful connections through sharing professional and life experiences. Our events include networking events, presentations by women leaders in their fields, panel discussions, and building tours featuring women designers.
Put on your walking shoes! Richmond Women in Design is hosting a Craft Studio Walking Tour in Richmond’s fastest growing neighborhood, Scott’s Addition. The event will start promptly at 5:30pm, so be sure to find on-street parking in advance. Afterwards, please join us at Väsen Brewing Company for a social hour, with a first-come-first-serve starter bar tab on RWiD! Total walking tour distance: 0.6 mile. See flyer for map of tour.
Featured Craft Studios:
1. Phoenix Handcraft | 1607 Altamont Avenue | 5:30pm – 6:10pm
PHOENIX HANDCRAFT is a husband-and-wife team. Kyle Lucia is a furniture designer and traditionally-trained blacksmith. Johannah Willsey is a visual artist specializing in mosaic. Together they create modern designs in metal, mosaic, and wood with the timeless feel of handmade work.
2. Studio Two Three | 3300 West Clay Street | 6:20pm to 7:00pm
STUDIO TWO THREE is a nonprofit organization, where Richmond is making its creative community, telling its stories, and building its future. Studio Two Three’s mission is to give people the space, tools and classes they need to find that thing they love and make it.
Post-Tour Social Hour:
3. Väsen Brewing Company | 3331 West Moore Street | 7:05pm to 8:00pm
I just had the pleasure of writing a LookSEE review of Emmy Bright's show at Quirk Gallery. Each day, I am surrounded by artists and art makers. I love art and collect it myself. I give my two cents (wanted or not) on art in progress every day. However, writing about an art exhibition is not something I do often.
At Studio Two Three, we are in the business of helping people find that thing they love and make it. We are in the business of connecting artists to communities, artists to each other, people to their passion and to their power to express themselves as makers, individuals, advocates and activists. We are in the nonprofit business of serving the public trust and making sure that our funds, our activities and our programs make our community, our city, and our world a better place every single day.
This business - and the corresponding responsibility and trust - is the very reason Studio Two Three exists. It is this business that makes my heart full. Because of this business - and the existence of Studio Two Three - I get to work with/alongside/in awe of people like Emmy Bright. The LookSEE review was an attempt to capture the impact of Emmy's work.
This post is an attempt to capture the magic of working alongside someone who has found that thing they love and is making it - and helping others do the same. It's an attempt to show just how very important artists and creatives are.
Emmy is the person who walks into a room - or a 13,000 square foot studio - and lights it up with her energy, production, spirit and love. Emmy is the person who fills print racks with new work and others with new drive. She is the person you try gamely to convince to "just stay here, Richmond needs you!" while knowing that she has much work to do in Detroit and that once you've connected, that connection will always be.
Emmy is the person who mails Studio Two Three a sweet note in January packaged with gummy bears from Detroit (really really good gummy bears). And those gummy bears are wrapped in a misprint as packaging. A misprint that you diligently un-crumple, flatten out and hang up so that you can can bask in the joy and angst and brilliance that is Emmy Bright.
Emmy is the person whose slightly-belated Valentine card arrives in the midst of planning anti gun violence workshops with bereaved high school students, Moms Demand Action, and Richmond Teachers for Social Justice. A well-timed reminder that in making things with our hands and saying things with our voices, we are change agents/art makers using what we have to do everything in our power to make a better world.
Emmy has found that thing she loves and is making it - and inspiring so many others to do the same.
On the morning of Friday, Nov. 17, we hosted Creative Mornings RVA, a monthly event attended by Richmonders who gather for creative inspiration, in our new Other Side space. More than 200 attended (tickets, which are free, were snatched up in an hour!) and were treated to a heartfelt talk by featured speaker Ashley Hawkins, our executive director.
With the month's theme of "Death" in mind, Ashley began with a story about her beloved aunt who sparked her love of fun, style and creativity and who died way too young. Her spirit has lived on in all of Ashley's pursuits including what she calls her "ultimate creative expression," Studio Two Three. Ashley talked about the importance of choosing the creative life and her love of passing it on to her two children, Max and Zoey.
When you're a small nonprofit, it can be challenging to access help from marketing professionals. So, when Altria's brand management group called for applications a few months ago for their annual CreateAthon, we quickly applied. A CreateAthon is a 24-hour pro bono marketing marathon during which professionals and/or students develop marketing strategies and creative materials that can help nonprofit organizations meet specific marketing objectives and increase their overall marketing capacity.
Studio Two Three was one of several Richmond non-profits selected to be the focus of Altria's CreateAthon teams, and today they shared recommendations and ideas with us following their 24-hour creative marathon. They focused on ways to increase awareness of our classes and events through our website, printed materials, social media and email as well.
We met with our CreateAthon team, headed by Rachel Nichols, at Altria and here at the studio, and on Nov. 8 we attended the reveal of what they came up with for us to consider in their 24-hour work session. They walked us through their strategies and recommendations for both print and digital marketing media, answering questions and explaining their thoughts.
"We loved so many of their ideas and have already implemented quite a few," says Ashley Hawkins, Studio Two Three executive director. "They helped us with our tag line, web site organization, class promotion ideas, event possibilities and more, all designed to raise community awareness about Studio Two Three."
Many thanks to our Altria team, a great group who took an enthusiastic interest in what we do and worked hard to come up with a plan for us.
Executive Director Ashley Hawkins named to Richmond 300 Advisory Council. Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth, is the update to the citywide Master Plan.
The city received over 150 applications for the 15-member group, which was then expanded to 21 members. The fact that so many people applied to serve on the Council is very exciting as it shows that the Richmond community is ready and willing to be part of this important process. "It was not easy to select the group out of a pool of over 150 well-qualified applicants, but we have assembled a group of 21 Richmonders who come from diverse backgrounds and bring knowledge in various areas of expertise."
The Advisory Council members are: Rodney Poole (Chair), Max Hepp-Buchanan (Vice-Chair), Burt Pinnock (Vice-Chair), Jonathan Bibbs, Cyane Crump, LaToya Gray, Bernard Harkless, Ashley Hawkins, Elyana Javaheri, Joyce Knight, Preston Lloyd, Louise Lockett, Monica Lozano, Jer-Mykeal McCoy, Jennifer Mullen, Kendra Norrell, Cailtlin O’Dwyer, Damian Pitt, Ted Ukrop, Meredith Weiss, and Olivya Wilson.
VCU honors Ashley Hawkins as one of its top 10 graduates of the last decade Richmond, Virginia (Nov. 17, 2017) – Ashley Hawkins, Executive Director of Studio Two Three, Richmond, Virginia’s only public printmaking studio, has been named by her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, as one of the university’s top 10 graduates of the last decade.
VCU Alumni’s 10 Under 10 awards celebrate alumni who earned their first VCU degree within the past 10 years and who have enjoyed remarkable professional success, made important contributions to their community and/or loyally supported the university. Hawkins was on the brink of leaving the VCU School of the Arts her junior year, when she started to etch, screen print and create lithographs. Her newfound passion reinvigorated her studies. “I was a fearful painter and almost quit VCUarts but then found printmaking and immediately fell in love,” Hawkins says. “The process was freeing. I could make 10 or 1,000 prints. I could change the plate or the screen, I could draw on my prints, collage — I was no longer afraid of ‘messing up.’” She knew that starting a community print shop was her calling and she did, at Richmond’s Plant Zero, after college.
With eyes on establishing a larger collaborative space, in 2010 she opened Studio Two Three, Richmond’s only printmaking studio that’s open to the public. At the same time, she returned to VCU to earn a master’s in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management. “I am an artist and Studio Two Three is my life’s art project,” Hawkins says. “I am fascinated by the constant excitement and challenge of creating and managing a growing organization and remaining responsive to our community needs.” Hawkins says it’s a dream responding to those community needs, which include creating a space that supports professional artists with tools to take their career to the next step.
The studio offers classes, workshops and a retail store, among other features. In 2017, Hawkins launched the Art of Activism series. The first session gave more than 200 participants the ability to make protest posters and ephemera before the women’s march in Washington, D.C. “We will continue to offer opportunities to amplify our voices in our community, in a time when art has never been more important,” Hawkins says. Hawkins says earning a B.F.A. at VCU taught her more than lessons in art; she walked away with real-world problem-solving skills.
More info: HERE
Curriculum Lab, an exhibit inspired by discarded materials from VCU’s Cabell Library, is open in our new space, The Other Side, and will be up through Nov. 19. There is a free Activity Day on Saturday, Nov. 4, 3-6pm and opening receoption 7-9pm.
Organizer Jonathan Lee gave 20 artists each library book checkout card pocket fronts to draw on, cover, cut, manipulate, combine, or add to in any way they choose. The rules: the artwork could be any depth but had to remain 3.5x3" and should be inspired by the text on each card. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork will support the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance’s ELLA program, which brings arts-integrated literacy into lower income Pre-K classrooms across the greater Richmond area. There are several more hands-on/minds-on activities scheduled at Studio Two Three in conjunction with the exhibit; read more here and come participate!
From an original pool of over 350 nominees, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the state arts agency, has selected Studio Two Three to receive one of its prestigious “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” in the category of Emerging Artists and Organizations! Studio Two Three Executive Director Ashley Hawkins and Assistant Director Hillary Zell attended a special reception today at the Executive Mansion with Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.
The “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” were conceived and designed by the Commission as a 50th anniversary tribute to 50 examples of programs, individuals, and organizations critical to the arts in Virginia. The designated “Arts Inspirations” may have played a critical role in the last 50 years, serve as today’s leaders and exemplars, or may be tomorrow’s visionaries, leading the way to a culturally vibrant future. The Commission was established by law in 1968 to promote awareness of and access to the arts across the state and to support a broad range of artists, arts organizations, and arts educators.
Following a statewide call for nominations, nominees for the awards in all categories were accepted for two months this spring. A panel comprised of former commissioners and arts leaders reviewed the nominations this past summer and recommended a slate to the full Board which adopted the final roster this fall. To ensure impartiality, no former commissioners and no state-elected officials were selected for the roster.
“We are indeed fortunate in Virginia to have an abundant and diverse roster of outstanding artists and organizations and their supporters spanning disciplines and decades,” said Margaret Vanderhye, the Commission’s executive director. “The 50 selected winners are representative of the best, but this list is far from definitive. Every day in communities across the Commonwealth, thousands of people benefit from the creative energies and pursuit of excellence that characterize Virginia artists and arts organizations.”
What can we say? The Factory: A Happening at Studio Two Three was a crazy success thanks to your enthusiastic participation! You bought tickets, dressed up, showed up, bid up and generally showed us your love for what we do here. With your help, we raised more than double last year's amount ... these funds will help us complete construction of our new space, sponsor outreach artmaking experiences and keep the cost of access to the studio reasonable for creatives in our community.
Shout out to Carly Romeo, Studio Two Three member, who took all the great pictures at the party. You can see more of Carly's work at http://carlyromeo.com/
Stay tuned for an invite to our tomato soup and grilled cheese follow up shindig.
With profound gratitude,
Ashley Hawkins, Executive Director
p.s. This is just a taste of the great pics from the event... Click here to check out Carly's full collection in our Flickr account!
On Saturday, April 22, we rolled to RVA Earth Day in our brand new S23 To-Go mobile art studio. It was a race to the finish to get the truck ready for its first engagement and everything ran smoothly thanks to project manager Jake Urbanski and the whole Studio Two Three community of staff and interns.
Also thanks to the press for covering our S23 To-Go launch. Read the stories here:
Coming up on Friday, April 28 on WTVR Ch. 6 at 11pm is a special story by reporter Greg McQuade.
Congratulations to Studio Two Three founder and executive director Ashley Hawkins on being selected one of Richmond's 2017 Women in the Arts by Style Weekly! She was honored on March 15 at a reception and awards ceremony at Dogtown Dance Theater. "I'm so delighted to be chosen along with the other accomplished and creative women this year," says Ashley. "It was fun to spend an inspiring evening with other Richmonders who are enthusiastic about the arts in our city."
Ashley is the co-founder (2009) and Executive Director of Studio Two Three (S23), Richmond's workspace for art. S23 provides artists the tools, space, and resources to build successful careers. Ashley views S23 as her ultimate creative expression; a balance of her passions for organization building, dreaming big, and art making. Ashley holds a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and a Master's of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ashley lives in Richmond, Virginia with her partner, 3-year-old son Max, newborn baby Zoey, and a cat named Olive. She makes prints, cardboard sculptures for Max, and a line of housewares with her fiancee under the guise of Hers (& His) Press.