Armed with the Arts, Spend a Sunday with Local Artists
When the sun hits the skylight windows atop the old State Prison hallways just right, the building is illuminated on the inside. The spooky corridors made of brick and the cool cement floors carry a scent of the past that camouflages well with the anonymous chimes and bangs from behind the old structure’s walls. All this may be enough to send a person running home to their room and to get under the covers. Unless there is something combating the shadows in the halls, bringing color and brightness to the historical site.
This structure at 100 Armory Court has come alive again in the last decade with renovations and projects that have turned it into an apartment complex. It houses a wide range of people from families young and old, entrepreneurs and an eclectic group of artists. The latter are a unique bunch that have studio spaces on the main floor that they tinker around in; some early in the day, some quiet as mice in the middle of night.
This year the artists are opening their studio doors every second Sunday of the month from noon to 4:00pm for the outside community starting April 14th. The community can look forward to furthering their education about art and history, enjoy refreshments and meet the Resident and non Residents Artists that will be there. “People sit down in my studio and talk, its the place to go,” stated Resident Artist Joy Nelson about her experience being a part of Second Sunday. “To me Second Sunday allows for the public to see the murals in the hallways and enjoy the interaction,” Joy also stated, “I really enjoy it.”
The murals in the hallways were created by Jean Weir and Hector Trujillo alongside Judy Gail Krasnow, the Project Director. The murals are a more permanent feature for the public to view at artist open houses. The Resident Artists and their students have also lined the hallways with their bright and awe-inspiring art.
Resident artist Luis Cubille stated, “Second Sunday is a way of connecting people. People are living here and working here,” Cubille continued, “It fills me with pride that people can see and tell their friends about it.” Cubille is a painter in the building, he teaches classes for children and adults every Saturday. Mary Sprague is another Resident Artist that teaches a Tuesday painting class for adults, Sprague has been featured many times at the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History.
The upcoming Sunday event will feature the very first public showing of a project the artists have been working on for the City of Saint Joseph. Weir, Nelson, Cubille and Marian Wellman-Horton painted on a train sculpture given to them by Saint Joseph which will be displayed on the streets in their town.
Another Resident Artist, Mary Westerlund is getting ready for Sunday, “I currently have art prints, art cards, and hand-painted silk scarves for sale at Art 634, The Old Prison Gift Shop and at Armory Arts Village.” Westerlund is also a writer and stated that she will be launching two blogs soon for the community.
Each month Bella Notte Ristorante features a different artist on their walls. For March they featured a collection by the Armory Artists. Bella Notte’s Art Director Jana D. Jamieson helped to promote the exhibit and stated, “What I’m trying to do is if people won’t go to the gallery, I’m going to bring the gallery to you.” Jamieson also stated that some of the staff was sad to see the exhibition end as they enjoyed working around the art and became accustomed it.
Former Resident Artist Kyle Johnson stated that back when the Armory was a prison the incarcerated were perhaps wishing for their freedom. He believes that the prayers and hopes of the imprisoned may have come into fruition in how an artist freely paints or how a musician makes carefree melodies in the hallways today. Are the artsy tenants connected in a deeper way to the historical past of the building and is this irony part of what brings the now bright hallways to life? The Artists invite you to their Sunday open houses so you can join in on solving any riddles while taking the time to support and enjoy local art.
To sign up for the Saturday class call Luis Cubille at 517-740-3650. To sign up for the Tuesday class call Mary Sprague at 517-388-3946.