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Finding Affordable Art Studio Space in Colorado Springs

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Artists solve problems of scarcity all the time, and we seem to thrive in this kind of environment, and I don't mean with the starving artist kind of psyche. Recently, I had the chance to talk with  for the Colorado Springs Business Journal about affordable studio space for artists, specifically, about ArtSpace, a unique project that soon will be taking shape in Downtown Colorado Springs, says Jeanne. 

"Painter, author and teacher Jana L. Bussanich shares the space at 218 W. Colorado Ave. with artist Chris Alvarez, three other artists from the Bridge Gallery, Purple Mountain Coffee Roasters and the GROOVY Print Shop.

“We share common events,” Bussanich said. “On First Fridays, the whole building is open, and we cross promote each other. It’s like being in a big house together.”

Bussanich, who owns Jana L. Bussanich Art and the Yellow Couch Gallery out of the building, lives within a bike ride of her studio and gallery.

Bussanich has been there for three and a half years, but she isn’t sure how much longer this ideal arrangement will last.

“The tract of land we’re on — all that’s going to go away eventually,” she said. “As we see the construction and the changes Downtown, we’ve all been talking about what’s coming in the next year and a half to two years. There is a lack of affordable space in what might be considered the Downtown core. None of us are looking [yet] but it seems obvious that we would have to move further out of the Downtown core when the time comes.”

Bussanich has been in business long enough that she is secure in her living and working arrangements.

But she knows artists who are just starting out are faced with a shortage of affordable living and studio spaces and might not have a network of people to partner with for living and working arrangements." (Read more)

As expected, in the days after the interview goes to press, I'm still mulling over thoughts prompted by Jeanne's questions, and the recent surveyors spotted shooting property lines on the plot of land bordered by Bijou Street to the north, Colorado Avenue. Bridge to the south, I-25 and Fountain Creek to the west, and the Union Pacific railroad lines to the east, where my studio and gallery are located.

This tract of land is Part IV of the city's Urban Renewal Plan, to reduce, eliminate and prevent the spread of qualifying conditions within the Urban Renewal Area and to stimulate the growth and development of the Southwest Downtown Area. In particular, the Urban Renewal Plan is intended to promote local objectives with respect to appropriate land uses, improved traffic, public transportation, public utilities, and other public improvements. Specifically, the purpose of the Plan is to create an urban neighborhood which leverages the community’s investment in America the Beautiful Park and creates linkages to the downtown core and which is in accordance with the Downtown Action Plan and the Imagine Downtown Plan. (Read more)

I see the space I'm in as an opportunity to practice creative problem-solving, which is an essential skill needed for all the other things I create. Being closed by the pandemic meant I could re-envision my unusable classroom space as the new Yellow Couch Gallery and my studio as the new Yellow Couch Classroom online. I painted the walls and began staging the area for an opening (the first was July 2022) while venturing into the virtual space to create another realm for my work. In the process, the author inside came out, and I self-published my first book Watercolor Technique and Color Theory Essentials: Cultivate an Art Practice that Works for You and Your Art.

My space is a theatre set to me (coming from a set design and construction background in the theater). It's okay that it's temporary, though it would be ideal to have a couple more years there before solving for an art space again.

Yes, it's a challenge to find affordable space as a creative, And it's an opportunity to externalize and practice the internal reality of being a maker, looking for the most unique and unusual space that feels congruent with the artist on the inside. 

The artistry of living a creative life is the same elements in good art –composition, design, light and dark, warm and cool, rough and smooth, color, contrast, texture, movement, the sensitivity of the line, and more. The process is for the artist, and the result is for others (the part most people identify as the art). For me, and those with whom I work closely there is little separation between the internal and external realities of knowing who we are and how we move in the world. 

  • Gentrify, to breathe new life into; recreate; regenerate –good words to ponder. 

Developer Chuck Murphy tells me he came to the feed store and barn along the river as a boy, now my gallery and studio space. Retired firefighter and Colorado Springs native Patrick H. frequented the feed store and barn throughout his childhood, and it was one of his favorite places to spend time. Acquaintance and fellow creative Robyn B. tells me she spent hours in the seed and feed store (218 W. Colorado Ave.) with her grandfather and an aunt, who later was the first in a long line of artists to occupy what became known as the Arts Depot District, made an island, cut-off from pedestrian and car traffic by the Colorado Ave. bridge. 

Sometimes I think, what if we could revitalize the area and bring back the seed and feed store, baby chicks in the springtime, a barn full of sweet-smelling hay; alas, where is the money in that idea? But then I think about riding bikes with my four grandkids in Littleton, along the Platte to Hudson Gardens, and I wonder what's possible for 218, down by the river, under the bridge, and beside the tracks.