Springfield Art Association opens new studio building

A ribbon cutting for Springfield Art Association’s new studio building will be held on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. Located at 815 N. Fifth St. on the SAA campus, this new building will house the Smith and Nickelson Metals Studio, The Baima Glass Studio and the Prairie Earth and Fire Ceramics Studio.

SAA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and began a capital campaign for construction of a new building as well as campus-wide renovations. Of the funds raised, $1.8 million dollars was spent on construction of the new studio and parking lot, while another $2.5 million was used to improve the existing studios and renovate the interior of the gallery space, among other projects.

In addition to improved lighting and new equipment for the metals and ceramics studio, the building will also house the first public access glass-blowing studio in Central Illinois. “We’re one of the few places that you can learn glass-blowing in an educational environment, not as part of a commercial glass studio,” said Betsy Dollar, executive director of Springfield Art Association.

Dollar said that SAA has partnered with the Springfield Area Arts Council, which has agreed to help fund an artist-in-residency program for the next two years. “We’re hoping to bring in a glass artist for a minimum of 12 months to establish the program and do some teaching,” said Dollar.

In 2016, the SAA used Enos Park TIF funds to acquire a brick duplex adjacent to the campus and renovated it to provide housing for visiting artists. The artists pay a nominal monthly fee and stay for a few months to a year, engaging with the community in a variety of ways while working on their projects.

Dollar said the equipment for the hot glass studio is being custom-built and is expected to be ready in June. A separate unveiling and dedication for the hot glass studio will be held at that time.

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