The famous line by Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”, has always struck a chord with me. The quote comes from a series of essays she wrote in 1928 about carving out a space for oneself – both literal and figurative. It was later adopted as a feminist statement in the 60’s and 70’s. I translated this ‘room’ as a creative space, a refuge – a studio for the artist. As a young woman coming of age in the 70’s, it was important for me to have just that.
I claimed my first studio while still an undergraduate student at University of Florida. This was a shared space with some photographers, a rather bohemian situation. And even though money was hard to come by, living in student poverty as I was, somehow I found a way. I needed this creative space away from academia, boyfriends, and other distractions. I was in the process of defining myself as an artist and making that declaration to the world. To have a studio, ‘a room of one’s own’, was a commitment.
When I moved to California in 1979, I got a job right away as a graphic artist fulfilling my financial obligations. But needing to feed my artist side as well, I answered an ad in Artweek magazine for a studio partner in a printmaking studio in San Jose. Betty and I had a successful partnership sharing a studio for almost 20 years. We moved studio and presses twice – from a converted 2 car garage in Campbell to the Citadel, an old cannery warehouse on 10th and Taylor, and later to the “new” Citadel on 5th and Martha. Having a studio helped define me as a serious artist in the community.
I later moved to Oakland and developed a studio there as well – but not for long, as my heart was pulled in another direction – Mexico. In 1999, I bought a small house in Mazatlán’s Centro Historico (for $27,000usd!) and soon after, built a studio on the 2nd floor. This was going to be my ‘studio abroad’ – my dream, my pie in the sky. I had envisioned South of France or Italy, but after one visit to Mazatlán, I was hooked. This beautiful city on the Sea of Cortez had just what I was looking for and was to be my haven away from the maddening crowds (and traffic!) of the San Francisco Bay Area. It didn’t take long, less than 2 years, to move there full time and create my dream life.
Fast forward to 2018. I am in San Miguel de Allende and just built a 3rd floor studio with plenty of natural light, space for painting, printmaking and workshops. Here, I am in a city known for its arts community and gallery scene – and an opportunity to introduce my work to a new market. Call it the 17year itch – I was definitely ready for a change.
I have always considered an artist’s studio as sacred space – a place to grow, create, and thrive as an artist.