The artists who come to The Studio all have some type of disability and all have differing backgrounds. They range in age from their early 20’s to their 70’s.
Some of our artists have experience in the arts and have taken classes. Most have no formal training at all. Some have lived their entire lives with their families, and some live in group homes or on their own. Others have spent large parts of their lives in institutions. Some are married, some have children and some have traditional jobs.
All together, with those of us who are lucky enough to work with them, these artists have created this rich and vibrant community that is The Studio.
The Studio Story
In the beginning, there was a vision. Kristi Patterson imagined a place where her aunt, Cheri Blackerby, and other adults with various abilities and disabilities could come to express themselves artistically. The idea was to foster those creative artists in Humboldt County and to showcase their work in the local community.
Inspired by a program in San Francisco called Creativity Explored, Kristi, along with her friend Lori Smith, set out to adapt that concept for Humboldt County. A generous financial donation from Patricia Powell provided enough funds to transform the dream into reality. The Studio, paired with The Ink People, officially opened in May of 1997 at the Manila Dunes Community Center. At first, The Studio was only open for three hours every Saturday. Kristi and Lori were the original teachers alongside others that volunteered their time and energy. The art supplies that were provided came mostly from generous donations.
As more artists joined The Studio and additional days were added, it moved to its current location at 272 C Street in Eureka in 2000. It also became a licensed program of HCAR, Humboldt County Access and Resource Center, which is funded through the Redwood Coast Regional Center. As interest and enrollment grew, additional days as well as new work spaces and paid teachers were added.
The Cheri Blackerby Gallery opened in 2005, allowing The Studio to present contemporary, innovative shows of the artists' work and to host show openings at every Arts Alive. This opened both the gallery and the classrooms to community visitors every month and gave The Studio an inclusive presence in Old Town Eureka.
The Studio also ventured out into the surrounding communities. Field trips allowed the artists to visit other galleries and meet other local artists. Several artists have showcased their paintings and ceramics at local art galleries and businesses.
Many Studio artists have participated in diverse community activities such as: Sand Sculpture contests, Pastels on the Plaza, and The Mateel Summer Arts & Music Festival. Murals for the California Mentor Network and Food For People were created by Studio artists. Artists have participated in the 3rd Street Festival and Parade, Redwood Acres Fair, North Coast Open Studios, and placed in professional art exhibitions at Humboldt County Fair. Studio artists have also set up their own booth drawing portraits at the 4th of July Main Street Fair and The Ink People Holiday Fair.
The Studio continues to offer enriching classes such as Drama, Video Production, and Music Class. Guest artists also provide new art workshops on a regular basis in diverse topics such as Fabric Sculpture and Drama Improvisation.
Both the Cheri Blackerby Gallery and The Studio are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 2 pm. Over the course of a week over 50 artists, assisted by 7 teachers, work at The Studio to express their unique visions of the world and their place in it.