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Home base: The Art Lab opens on Dickinson

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Harvey S. Wooten, center, cuts the ribbon on the new Ms. Harvey S. Wooten The Art Lab on Feb. 1, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


Mackenzie Tewksbury
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 1, 2019

When the owners of Studio 9 on Dickinson Avenue decided to discontinue the lease, sculptor Jordan Parah did not know what would be next for her and her art.

She would have nowhere to showcase, store or create her art. She needed an affordable new place. But where?

“We were looking all over. One of the main issues was affordability. My work is all metal and I can't just go weld in my own house — I needed a space,” Parah said. “It was a very stressful time.”

Then Holly Garriott, director of the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, approached her with an idea she had been working on with Emily Jarvis, director of A Time For Science after an effort to recruit an artist in residence did not work out.

“We thought, 'What if instead of just having one artist, we have four artists and we create an incubator space?'” Garriot said. “We then found out that the four artist's in Studio 9, their lease wasn't going to be renewed and they'd have to vacate, so we decided that those would be our four artists.”

Community members gathered on Friday to celebrate the culmination of that idea during the formal opening of The Art Lab, housed A Time For Science on Dickinson Avenue. The art incubation space will host artist for year-long sting in what used to be mechanics bays in the revamped auto shop.

“It’s just a great day in Greenville,” said Leo Corbin, president on the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce. “A collaboration has come together — we’ve got Emerge Gallery, the Pitt County Arts Council, the City of Greenville, ECU and, of course, a Time for Science. What a wonderful collaboration to enrich our community and make Greenville a better place to be.

It’s really exciting,” Corbin said, adding that the joint effort will help make Greenville “a great place to live, work, play and learn.”

“What we have wanted to do is bring the art to out uptown area,” Garriot said. “What they are doing here is experimenting, creating and selling. This is the start of a program where we are building business resources. but also we want these artists to be able to stay within our uptown district and stay within this county.

“This is about quality of life, about giving us things to do and being proud of our community,” Garriot said.

The partnership is partially funded by Harvey S. Wooten, a board member of both Pitt County Arts and A Time For Science.

The space will hold four artists on contracts and is meant to serve as an “arts incubator” for emerging local artists.

“The goal is to offer affordable studio space to artists,” Garriot said.

The first group of artists at The Art Lab are Parah, Liz Steiner, Lindsay Koontz and Darlene Williams. They will be at the space through July. The artists can have the studio space in exchange for being at the studio from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Garriott said this allows the artists to use the space as not only an art studio but also a business resource and a place to sell their work.

“It gives them a chance to get on their feet, test out the market. We really see it as a transition space,” Garriott said. “And then the goal is that once their contract is up then hopefully they can find a space in Greenville.”

Parah said she was extremely grateful for the opportunity from Garriott because it gave her art a home, and it also adds a lot of local flavor to the city.

“I knew it was a perfect opportunity and something that would be great for everyone; not just myself but the community as well,” Parah said.

Garriott echoed this idea and said the more art in the community, the better.

“I really believe artists and art organizations are the catalysts for growth and development. If you look at Dickinson, this is a great next step to light up that side of it and bring artists and creativity to the district,” Garriott said.

Parah said having her own studio space was a lifeline for her as a young artist in Greenville and she is excited to have a home base again.

“It's something emerging artists really need,” Parah said. “If I didn't have my own studio space as an early graduate, I don't know what I would've done. I was able to develop myself as an artist.”