Prairie Center: The Studio
Studio space is shared at Prairie Center of the Arts, but if you can imagine a 90,000 square foot building with four artists in it, you’ll have a sense for how vast the studio space here actually feels. The Cordage Building, built by the Peoria Cordage Company over a hundred years ago, is part of the industrial and commercial neighborhood of downtown Peoria. There’s a whole lot of story in that last sentence, but I’ll save that for posts to come. As it is, painters Cobi Moules, Maureen Gasek, and Ron and I hop into the van each morning and head on over to the studio.
We’re not using the entire building, of course. Not even close. But entering one wing of the building we walking into something that looks like this:
The painters here seem accustomed to open, public spaces that are large and allow them to work on their paintings up close while also stepping back and viewing them from a distance when needed. It’s completely different than what a writer requires, but it’s awesome to get to share the same space with them and feel like, slowly but surely, each day we’re putting in our time and doing the good work. A turn to the right after entering our wing of the building gets me to my “studio,” which is partially partitioned and has a lovely urban-industrial-office type feel. Traffic whizzes by on the other side of the old factory windows, red brick walls counter the white bulletin boards, and high ceilings with great lighting make the whole space feel alive.
I can hear occasional hammering and pounding from other parts of the building (Tri-City Machine operates from here) and vast portions of the building are still being renovated to make room for additional artists. Other times I can her Cobi laugh or Ron’s black leather boots scuffing across the concrete floor. Sometimes we all find ourselves in the break room hankering for cheese toast or tea at the same time, and a nice little mid-day break occurs. Although I’m accustomed to working in silence, these sounds and interactions comfort me. They are the sounds of other artists doing their work. They are the sounds of good company. They are the sounds of collaboration through support and applied effort. My, it feels good to be in community again.