According to their website, the “Urban Art Co-Op is a group of talented and diverse local potters focused on promoting and supporting the arts in our community with the intent to expand to include artists who work in other mediums . We have created a welcoming environment for all levels of potters where artistic growth and collaboration happen. We teach classes and workshops, exhibit, sell and give to the local community. Our structure is supported by artist’s participation in all duties and functions of the Co-Op which allows us to maintain an affordable space for all members.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two of the founding members, Karen Mannino and Nick Lowe and one resident artist JoDee Moody. Their energy and good humor made for a fun and relaxing time as they showed me around and gave me the scoop on the Urban Art Co-op.
The idea for the Co-op was born December of 2014 when a group of Spokane pottery artists dreamed up their perfect space. Autumn Bunton, Karen Mannino, Nick Lowe, John Newman, Keith Harger, Jo Dee Moody, and Libby Schoedel are the founding members of the Urban Art Co-op. Their idea was simple yet powerful. Create a space where artists of all kinds can come to share ideas, inspiration and tips of the trade. A place to make friends and build community connections.
With this goal in mind, the group met weekly to write up by-laws, hammer out membership parameters and contracts, and generally figure out how to get started. Excitement grew as they worked well together and by February of this year the group had built enough capital and gathered enough donated materials to begin. February of this year, they found a space at 3017 N. Monroe and began remodeling it to fit their needs. Despite a few structural difficulties to overcome, it didn’t take long for them to settle in. Their Grand Opening & Mug Sale was held on March 28th and 29th. Amazingly, not only did they get their studio ready but the artists created over 200 mugs and six special prizes to be raffled off, some of which are pictured below.
According to Karen and Nick, “It actually came together amazingly easily. Everyone of us was able to contribute in different ways, from building the website to constructing special sinks that can collect clay run off without clogging. We are proud of what we’ve started and hope to expand into other mediums; let other artists use this space to create art and hold workshops.”
They are off to a good start. The Co-op currently has seven potters wheels, and (for the moment) 1 working kiln with 3 more to be installed soon. They offer wheel throwing, hand building, pinch, coil, and slab sculpting classes. The classes are eight weeks long, with an additional two weeks for final touches and cost only $125.00. This includes clay, glazes, and kiln time. Pottery, however, is not the only medium they teach. As with so many artists, the core group has a list of other skills to offer. Their talents include painting, photography, writing, basketry, glass creations and more. It was this mixed bag of interests and talents that helped shape their goals for the Co-op and lay the groundwork for them to offer special workshops beyond the pottery medium.
Their first workshop was called “Fastenings and Findings”. Two of the co-ops members, jewelry artists Jo Dee Moody and Mary Cooper taught how to wire wrap ceramic pendants, make bails, adjustable clasps, and decorative knots in cord, and two styles of earring heads. JoDee was very pleased with how well the workshop went. “Everyone was happy with it. Mary brought in so much information for our students, things they probably wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. For only $40.00 they left with at least four items. Everyone made two pairs of earrings, a wire wrapped pendant and fastener/finding, and a necklace. Our workshops last one or two days and vary in price and difficulty. This first workshop was geared toward people with some experience in making jewelry but we also offer workshops for beginners.”
More workshops will be offered soon. A Felted Vessel workshop is already open for reservations on their website (link at bottom of post) and will be held on May 31st. Plans are also in the works to hold an August workshop teaching Eco-printing on silk, and an October workshop teaching how to create mugs/jars with faces like the one pictured above. Bookmark their website to keep on top of all the amazing workshops offered.
With a current total of fourteen co-op members, including six teachers, and three resident artists they are hoping to expand their co-op into other mediums soon. According to Karen, “We are currently available to host date nights, ladies nights, birthday parties, and corporate events. Our ultimate goal though, is to own a larger building, bring in small groups of artists that work with different mediums and are willing to bring their talents and enthusiasm to teach more workshops, share equipment and collaborate on projects. We need people willing to put in a little seed money, time and talent to help us grow.”
“All members help with upkeep of the studio and donate a portion of their work for sale so we can keep prices low. We want to make it a good deal for the artist; give them an incentive to be here.” So far it’s working out nicely. The co-ops artists, using a variety of techniques, have made some beautiful and useful items.
Interested in taking a class, attending a workshop or becoming a member? Are you an artist in need of some space? Do you, or anyone you know of, have any items you’d be willing to donate? Check out their website at http://www.urbanartcoop.org/ .
** The co-ops wish list includes more cabinets, pottery wheels, and an extruder (think giant Play-doh press).