Business Beat: Open Concept Studios Readies for ‘first’ First Friday Art Walk; 10/2..

Jeff Ritter, Owner, and Meghan Zachary, General Manager of the Cove Street Art Center

Jeff Ritter, Owner, and Meghan Zachary, General Manager of the Cove Street Art Center

By Carol McCracken (Post # 296)

Open Concept Studios are a new, modern and gleaming white group of studios that are almost ready to make their public debut at the First Friday Art Walk this Friday, October 2nd, starting at 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Owner Jeff Ritter has worked hard and thoughtfully to make this a state-of-the-art artist space; it’s located at 50 Cove Street.  Jeff’s wholesale jewelery supply store is right at the main entrance.

Following a First Art Walk planning meeting with the seven tenants who occupy space and will be showing their work on Friday, Jeff took time out to give MHN a tour of the building in which his jewelery supply company and pristine new studios are located.  Four spaces remain to be rented and they are large enough so that two tenants could occupy one space, he said.  Part of its uniqueness comes from the natural gas feed that Ritter provides each studio;  that’s essential for glass blowing and jewelery making and can be difficult to accommodate in some older buildings in the Greater Munjoy Hill area.  The building is surrounded by parking spaces! The entrance to the Studios are in the back of the building.

The studios themselves are flush with walking space and it’s easy to talk to some of the artists at work while they are also able to maintain as much privacy as they need.  There are numerous common working areas.  The florescent lighting is even turned upside down to prevent eye strain from it.  Working nearby the couch in which we are sitting, Meghan Zachary, general manager, of the Cove Street Art Center said laughing, “He’s thought of everything!”

Jeff and his wife bought the building on April 1, 2008.  They’d been looking for such a building for years.  It had been an industrial building and was in poor condition.  Renovating it was a massive undertaking.  His first tenant did not succeed which was scary for him.  But fortunately “Running With Scissors” came along in June of 2008. It rents out artists’ space as well.  Jeff says that the layout for Open Concepts was partially inspired by Running With Scissors.

“During our planning we talked all the time about open space concepts for these studios.  That’s where the name came from.  The openness works.  It lifts the creative spirit and inspires a more creative environment,” Jeff said grinning broadly.

Please visit jsritter.com for more information or call (207) 772-3822 or 1-800-962-1468.

The First Friday Art Walk is supported by Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance.  Please visit www.portlandarts.org for more!