Studios on the Park brings art to life

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Artist Anne Laddon at work in Studios on the Park.

Artist Anne Laddon at work in Studios on the Park.

See artists at work in their studios

In the Spring of 2007 artist Anne Laddon decided to address what she saw as an urgent need in her city: Paso Robles was missing a center for its growing art community. Now, her vision for an active, involved space for artists and art lovers alike is complete. Since opening its doors in May of 2009, Studios on the Park has served as a major hub of Paso Robles’ thriving art community.

From its location along the tree-lined eastern edge of Paso Robles City Park, Studios on the Park boasts an array of activities for visitors and community members, as well as the opportunity for visitors to purchase and learn about art being made locally. The studio resides in a historic building which has, over its long history, housed an auto-repair shop and a variety of auto show rooms. Though the building has gone through extensive renovations, much of the original character remains intact. The facade, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, faces the park and lets in abundant light, the sign on the front of the building was designed to mirror old-fashioned auto-repair shop signs and decorative touches throughout the building remind visitors of the history of the space.

Laddon thinks back to the state of the building when she first was considering it for the Studios on the Park space, “There was no electricity, no plumbing, no bathroom, no air-conditioning.” Now, opens to a large, industrial-style space divided into nine studios; each work-space is shared between two or more artists. The layout also includes the Paso Robles Art Association Gallery, a classroom and the administrative office while another area houses a printmaking studio.

Artists work in a variety of mediums at Studios on the Park, including oil and acrylic painting, ceramics, encaustic, printmaking, collage, photography, silversmithing and watercolor. Styles range from very traditional to contemporary abstract, and the band of artists even boasts a retired Disney animator among the ranks.

The unique combination of artist work-space allows for visitors to view the art being made – this is at the heart of Studios on the Park. Laddon’s vision – a working set of studios, not only a gallery, to be available to patrons – is based on an interactive art community she had been a part of in the Washington DC area during the 1970s and 80s, Visitors are encouraged to pause and watch as artists work, and to ask questions of the artists. Says Laddon, “You are not going to get a sales pitch here. This is not a commercial gallery.”

A connection to the community was a part of Laddon’s vision from day one. A variety of classes are offered throughout the year and include still-life drawing for adults and youth self-portrait classes.

Each Memorial Day weekend, Studios on the Park presents the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts in the downtown Paso Robles City Park each Memorial Day weekend; groups of invited artists set up their work in tents throughout the park and others set up their work in Studios on the Park as well, giving the downtown a festival feel.

With its continued presence both in the community and in its space downtown, this member of the Paso Robles art community continues to make a huge impact on the landscape of the arts in Paso Robles.

Studios on the Park, located at 1130 Pine St. in Paso Robles, is open Thursday – Sunday, Noon-6, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Call (805) 238-9800 or visit www.studiosonthepark.org for more information, including schedules for classes and workshop.

— Kate Joyce

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