Lydia Walker Art Opening, and the Ending of a Chapter at Studio 15

Jordan Bissell

On Saturday, August 13th, local gallery and all-ages show venue, Studio 15, will be holding an event at 7 pm. The Studio 15 Closing Party will feature art by Lydia Walker and music by Kat Fox, C-Silence, Strictly Hammers, and Rooftop Fable. The space has served a multitude of uses for artists of all kinds since its opening in November of 2014, having been utilized as a visual art gallery, a space for classes, an all-ages venue, and rental studio spaces for artists and musicians. The gallery announced on their Facebook page early this month that they “will be closing its physical location at the end of the month, Studio 15 will continue on as a soft business promoting arts in the Twin Ports community.”  The show on Saturday will serve both as a celebration of Studio 15 and the ending of a chapter for them, but also the opening night of a final art showing with Walker and her family. She is not only a local Duluth artist, talented in many art forms, but also the founder and owner of Studio 15. Walker describes herself as an “art therapist and artist specializing in how art and the brain interact promoting healing and healthy living.” We had the chance to talk with her about future plans for herself and Studio 15. We sat down with Walker and family member, Jey Thoennes, while they prepared some canvases for the opening.

Reader: Would you like to tell us a little bit about Studio 15?

LW: Studio 15 is an art gallery and art studio space, that hosts classes, all-ages music events, and has two different gallery spaces for the community to show art. We’re a learning gallery, a lot of artists have never shown in galleries before. We kind of go over with them on how to prep your stuff for a gallery, how to put together a show, how to hang (their art), and what types of things you’d need to typically apply for a gallery show. We also work with experienced artists as well, so we’ve run a gambit of different things we’re able to do here. Me personally, I go out into the community and do art classes and art events, such as the mural on 6th Ave East, which was a collaboration with Healthy Duluth.

Reader: And what is Healthy Duluth?

LW: Healthy Duluth is an organization that works within the Duluth community on ways to improve it. Right now they are working on improving Hillside and the areas of 6th Ave East, to make it more bike and walker friendly, and to be more friendly for the community. We do things like go paint at Hillfest, and I’ve done things with The Children’s Museum, so I do a lot of community artwork.

Reader: What led Studio 15 to stay an all-ages music venue, instead of a 21+ venue, like most music spots in town?

LW: Well, we are an all-ages, family friendly environment, so that’s one reason. Also, I grew up in the Duluth music community and I went to a few shows in local basements, because they were the only places that could do all-ages events.  So there were some people that were just there to party, and to get messed up; they were really ruining it for the people who just wanted a safe place to enjoy music. I wanted to be able to provide that safe place.

Reader: When did Studio 15 open?

LW: November of 2014.

Reader: So, I understand that you recently announced online, that the gallery’s physical space will be closing?

LW: Correct. So it’s a cooperatively run studio space, there are other artists who rent out their own personal studio spaces, and they’ve always had a say in what kinds of things go on here, what kinds of events. Most of them are musicians (bands Chase Down Blue & Gin Street), and we are going to break up the art and music portions (of the co-op). They are going to focus on the music side of things, but also still do some art shows, in a space they’re going to call Blush. They want to continue the ideal of an all-ages safe place for people to go to music events and share art. Then I’m going to be focusing more on community art, and my own art. I’m going to start doing some art shows, at some less traditional places, or some places that don’t usually do art shows themselves. First will be the Exchange Bakery & Cafe, whose temporary location due to the recent storm is now in the Medical Arts Building. Their new space allows for me to come in and do that, and I’ll also probably be hosting some paint nights out of there, and things like that, anything that brings more art in the community.

Reader: When is the closing of the gallery officially, I know you’re doing an event of some sort to kick off the final gallery?

LW: Yes, we’re doing our opening night for the last art gallery, which I will be the featured artist for, on Saturday, August 13th, at 7pm. That gallery will be up until our officially closing date, on August 30th.

Reader: So is this the last Studio 15 event, or will there be anything towards the end of the month?

LW: The Studio 15 Closing Party on Saturday, August 13th, will be the last event. Art Opening at 7 pm. Music around 8:30 or 9pm. We are going to have some local performers doing music for the night.

Reader: So if someone wanted to come check out the gallery and your art between August 13th and the 30th, when would they be able to do it?

LW: The best thing would be to get a hold me, our studio is staffed by volunteers so we do not currently have regular hours.

Reader: And the band line-up for the evening?

LW: Kat Fox, C-Silence, Strictly Hammers, and Rooftop Fable.

Reader: So it seems like from glancing over this list you just mentioned, that these seems to be mostly artists who have predominantly contributed to music events here in the past?

LW: Yep! Except Rooftop Fable. It will be their first time playing here, they expressed that they really wanted to play here, so I told them, “well then now is the time.” *laughs*

Reader: So will anyone else be featured in the art opening?

LW: Yes, there will also be pieces from some of my family members, including Jey Thoennes and some of my collaboration work with Joseph Thoennes.

Reader: Jey, do you mind telling me how old you are and a little about your art?

JT: I am ten years old, and I make a lot of splatter paintings, I also make corkscrew creatures.

Reader: Very cool, and what are corkscrew creatures?

JT: They are little creatures I make by connecting corks and adding features with screws.

Reader: So Lydia, will there be a certain theme to what you’ll be showing?

LW: My work tends to be more organic, and I like color. Most of my work is inspired by nature and trees. There will be some additional pieces to my ‘For the Love of Trees’ series. There will also be work from outside that series.

Reader: Will everything in the exhibit be paintings?

LW: No, there will be paintings, drawings, photography, paper dying, sculptures, and a few of my metal sculptures. This will actually be the first time I will be showing any of my metalwork.

Reader: Anything else you’d like to add about the studio or your future plans?

LW: I’d just like to say thank you to the community for supporting us thus far, and look out for community artwork we’ll be doing in the future!

Studio 15
15 N 3rd Ave W
Duluth, MN

Contact 218-727-2518 or the Studio 15 Facebook page to set up viewings or inquires about purchasing art.