Studio 831 opens for artists

Kate Fechter

Studio 831 is the first artist workspace to open its doors at the North Topeka Arts District, also known as the NOTO Arts District. Local painter, former Washburn professor and community leader, Barbara Waterman Peters is paving the way for other artists along with Michael Hager and Lois VanLiew.

Hager is a sculptor, professor of sculpture and printmaking at Washburn and the exhibit preparer at the Mulvane Art Museum. VanLiew is a painter and Kansas State graduate, who came back to Topeka after living and working in Milwaukee, Wis.

Peters signed her lease on Nov. 1 and moved in over Thanksgiving weekend.  Hager and VanLiew are her subtenants and have signed their subleases. So far though, Peters is the only one fully  moved in at the studio.

Peters and VanLiew have been longtime friends and have wanted to work in a gallery together for a long time.

“We talked for a long time about wanting to get studio space and looking for studio space together, but it had never really come to pass,” said Peters. “When presented with this opportunity, I jumped at it and so did she.”

Still wanting a third tenant, Peters asked Hager to join them at Studio 831 and he agreed.

“It’s kind of a goal for an artist to have a separate studio at some point in his or her life,” said Hager. “It is a place of creating. It is not open to the public but we will have open houses.”

Peters says Studio 831 is a work space and does not have the city codes to operate as a gallery.

“This is not a gallery,” said Peters. “We do not have open hours. If people want to visit us personally or come to talk to us about a painting or a work of art, that’s fine. They can call and make an appointment. That’s fine, but we are not operating as a gallery.”

She says she comes to the studio almost every day and spends anywhere from two to six hours working. When compared to creating at home, Peters says working in a studio away from home has its definite advantages.

“Of course it’s a cliché but when you’re at home, you think about the dishes that need doing or throwing in another load of laundry,” said Peters. “Here I don’t have any of those strange little messages coming in. My message here is to paint and to focus on that. I love it.”

Peters just finished some paintings that will be shown in Wichita at City Arts. She is also working on a painting for an upcoming show at the Collective Gallery that is centering around cats. She has more shows this year and a large, traveling show coming up in 2012.

Being so busy helped influence Peters’s move to Studio 831 and she says she has wonderful feelings about being the first artist with studio space at NOTO.  She is happy to be able to help pave the way for other artists.

“Sometimes when someone with a little bit more visibility, someone who is just a little bit more well known and more mature artist gets involved in something, it kind of helps pave the way,” said Peters. “I felt that I was rather ideally placed to do that. So it’s not only for me and for my enjoyment and for pursuing my work over here, with energy and excitement, but also the privilege of showing others it can work, will work and is working. It is a reality.”