Art Introduction

Cooper-Young’s Art Factory opens process to public

By Andy Meek

The Art Factory in Cooper-Young is preparing to throw open its doors later this week for an open studio night that will introduce the public to the artists and artisans there hard at work on their craft – and also give a peek inside the creative process.

With studios provided for rent to artists of almost any kind at 777 S. Cox St., the Art Factory is hosting its second open studio night to, in the words of artist Jennifer Turnage, “connect the public to the art-making process.”

Local artist Maggie Russell works on a drawing in her studio at The Art Factory. The Cooper-Young studios are provided for rent to artists of all kinds. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Turnage, who rents a space at the Art Factory in addition to working for the related Palladio Group, said the event will feature artists from a variety of disciplines showcasing their work on the walls, and artwork will also be available to buy.

The Palladio Group is a family-owned entity that includes a collection of shops and galleries focused on things like the arts and antiques. As part of the free event at the Art Factory Thursday, Nov. 6, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the studio spaces will be open and members of the public can roam, browse and ask questions.

“This will be our second open studio night event,” Turnage said. “I wanted to do it in July, when we could have this event to invite the public to check out what everybody’s been working on, and it had a great response. The artists loved it, the community seemed to be really drawn to the idea, and it had a great turnout. So we decided to do another one towards the holidays.”

The studio layouts that the public will get to see have actually been rearranged multiple times over the years. Palladio Group owner Frank Roberts has a background in homebuilding that’s allowed him to adjust the size of the spaces to fit the artists’ needs.

When the timing is right, for example, he can knock down a wall or build a wall to accommodate an artist’s request for more space.

Turnage said the idea for the Art Factory began evolving in 2004, when the Roberts bought an old office building they used for storage. A local artist eventually needed workspace and asked about it, which helped create a word-of-mouth advertisement that spaces were available.

Amenities include 24-7 access for the artists and an alarm system to ensure safety. The community of artists there includes painters, potters, ceramists, quilters, jewelry makers – even a poet.

“The Art Factory has been a great place for me to start work after graduating from the University of Memphis,” said Brit McDaniel, an artist who calls her modern ceramics studio Paper & Clay. “The space is modest and affordable and is in walking distance to all the great spots in Cooper-Young.”

Artists participating in the open studio night, in addition to Turnage and McDaniel, include Katie McWeeney, Maggie Russell, Jill Samuels, Erica Bodine, Billy Moore and Ryan Stewart.

“A lot of people are interested in how the creative process begins,” Turnage said. “Being able to look inside someone’s space and see where they keep their pencils or brushes and what kind of paints they use is a really neat and intimate way to get to know the artist. To see how they work and what kind of work is up on the wall is kind of intriguing, and I think everybody that came in July was quite pleased to see the different kind of approaches everybody had.”