New Arts Studios Setting Roots in Heartside

By Mariah Cowsert on June 17th, 2016 / Comments

With the strength in the Grand Rapids arts community, artists are coming together to start their own businesses that will utilize their craft. The newest addition to the Avenue for the Arts community of small businesses are two gallery and studios spaces: Cerasus Studio and the Collective Artspace. Both businesses will build the arts community in Heartside through support and cultivating collaboration between students and professional artists who seek to benefit from each other’s skills.

After curating for ArtPrize and Art.Downtown for a few years, participating with the Avenue for the Arts learning lab as the education coordinator for the Break it Down series, Callie Cherry seeks to bridge the gap between art students and professional artists and act as a forum for learning.

Cherry noticed that “even the most talented artists in Grand Rapids can struggle with a few things: writing artist statements, pricing work, or even talking about their art to guests at an exhibition. This isn’t the case with everyone, but most artists would admit that they’re uncomfortable with some of the business and communication skills they need to be successful”. Cherry says her hope is that Cerasus Studio will also “inspire young adults to pursue careers in the arts when they see that there is a support system there” and that “art students can use it as a way to boost their resume and produce a show before they graduate”.

Cerasus Studio is taking open submissions from local makers to ensure that “learning doesn’t just happen for featured artists but for anyone who wants to participate”, says Cherry. Just a bit further down the Avenue, a fresh art collective is growing roots in the community through collaboration and affordable studio space.

After the closing of Craft House, artists Ryan Hay, Rachelle Wunderink, and Tia Wierenga wanted to utilize the space for artists to work on collaborative exhibitions, use the space as a working studio, and provide community through memberships for their artspace.

After graduating from Calvin College in 2010, Wunderink says she “originally co-founded an artist collective in Taipei, Taiwan called ColorWolfStudios” and “realized how effective it was for artists to share a space, which inevitably led to collaboration and further inspiration” after she met Ryan Hay through Craft House. Ryan’s primary interest was in the gallery, but saw an opportunity to work together to start a collective and an exhibition space in the same place. Wunderink says they “eventually gained Tia Wierenga, a friend of mine from Calvin, and officially created “The Collective Artspace”.

Wunderink says her focus is on “sustaining a tight-knit artist collective whose members will have access to downtown studio space and exhibition opportunities in our gallery” and that they are “converting the basement into affordable studio space, while continuing exhibitions on the main level–where the primary goal of the art-making is to build relationships within the city, and especially along Division Ave”.

Hay explains that, “in addition to our regularly scheduled “collective” shows,if a group of artists wants to put a show together, we have affordable and flexible options for exhibition rates” and they “hope to encourage small groups of artists to rent our space and host shows of their own”.

The grand opening of the Collective Artspace features a 10×10 panel of new work created by each member to showcase their style as well as features on each artist on their Facebook page that exhibits their work and background. The Collective Artspace will be hosting Frontier Ruckus, Michigan based indie-folk band, later in June for an acoustic set as well as a solo exhibition from Matthew Milia which showcases their passion in bringing a variety of artists and performers to their space.

Cerasus Studio will be opening later this summer and is currently accepting submissions from professional, student, and community artists. To get involved or find out more each of these new studios, visit their Facebook pages: The Collective Artspace and Cerasus Studio for updates on exhibitions, community events, and memberships.

About the Author

Mariah Cowsert

Mariah Cowsert studies Communication with a Theatre Emphasis and Journalism at Aquinas College where she is the Opinion Editor for The Saint Newspaper. Mariah is a writer, actor, and mixed media artist who loves getting the community involved in local art and starting conversations surrounding it.