Colony Wharf Studios

Getting creative on C Street

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ask just about any artist what the biggest impediment to getting work accomplished is, and chances are good they’ll point to a lack of space. Once they’ve got a place of their own to paint, sculpt or write, they’re typically good to go. We caught up with artists Sheana Sisselman and Gillian Myers to talk about Colony Wharf Studios, a new creative collective in downtown Bellingham designed to help artists get things done.

Cascadia Weekly: Your tumblr page says your move-in date to the Colony Wharf Studios 
was Aug. 15. What made you decide to have a grand opening celebration 
Gillian Myers: Showing work can be a little stressful and we didn’t want to put pressure on the artists working here, so we thought it would be beneficial to all of us to ease into these new spaces, and into the community.

CW: You have painters, printmakers, sculptors, illustrators, a literary 
artist and a filmmaker in residence. How did you get such a diverse group 
of people in the studio?
Sheana Sisselman: Good old-fashioned social networking. And frankly, it wasn’t very hard to find artists who needed a workspace. The hard part was making sure it could be an affordable and productive space. 

CW: Is the lack of affordable space in
 Bellingham one of the reasons you opened the studio?
SS:There has been an influx of the availability of creative spaces in the last decade. Make.Shift, Waterfront Studios, and Dreamspace Studios currently have a waitlist. So I hope Colony Wharf Studios can add to the downtown arts district and the Bellingham well of culture. 

CW: What’s “affordable” for Bellingham?
SS: When I was at Jinx, my rent for a space with no walls, windows and no heat for the first 6 months was $175 a month. That is the cheap end.
GM: Our studios range from $140 to $225 (depending on size), which includes utilities and the internet.

CW: How did you find this “weird Bellingham shipyard” space?
SS: Lenae Day was shopping around for a space and found this building online. She approached Gillian and me to go in on it with her and help her find some people to fill the space. Lenae has since moved to Los Angeles and left the future of the space with Gillian and me. We owe this space to her. And right now we are all filled up with the following artists: Amy Gibson, Jessyca Murphy, Jess Greenleaf-Moeller, Drew Miller, Kelly Bjork, Brittany Beug, Peter Scherrer, and Katie Johnson.

CW: How did you come up with the name?
SS: It’s actually the name of the building on all the paperwork when we signed for it. We adopted it. 

CW: What’s unique about the Colony Wharf Studios? 
GM: The location is unlike any other (almost). [We’re on the] waterfront, surrounded by boats. Every room has windows—a luxury for an artist!

CW: What will people find when they attend the grand opening Jan. 19?
GM: This opening will showcase the resident artists work in a temporary “gallery” space in the building, with some of the artists also having their studios open so people can take a peek. There will be food, drinks, music. It should be really fun!
SS: Look forward to some awesome installation pieces and a local musician playing for the patrons.

CW: What do you see for the future of Colony Wharf?
GM: Hopefully, Colony Wharf can help provide exposure and bring more opportunities to the artists working here. I feel pretty good about what we’ve got going on right now.
SS: I hope in the future we can have monthly exhibitions, in-house workshops and weekly live figure drawing sessions. We want to help Bellingham’s art culture grow.

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