Towson Arts Collective's new bigger space will help 'fulfill our mission'

Towson Arts Collective board members believe that when it comes to finding just the right space, the third time's going to be the charm when the art group moves a couple storefronts east on West Chesapeake Avenue.

"This space will truly fulfill our mission that we started out — to bring students, the community, and professional artists together — because we'll have a bigger space for classrooms," board member Diane Margiotta, a Mount Washington resident, said.

The 200-member nonprofit arts organization's home will more-than triple its size from 1,000 square feet to 3,600 square feet, enabling the group to continue to provide a venue for artists while being an art education center. The group's new space at 40 W. Chesapeake Ave. is the former site of Kinkos.

TAC will formally mark the opening of its new space on Sunday, Sept. 29, with an exhibit from the Baltimore Watercolor Society while paying tribute to the namesake of the Ellen "Brit" Christiansen Memorial Fund, which provided grant funding to help enable the move.

Margiotta declined to provide the grant amount, but said it would cover rent, utilities and some adaptive art equipment for people with disabilities.

Towson Arts Collective moved in March 2012 out of the basement of the Finkelstein's building beneath The Greene Turtle restaurant on York Road.

That space had water issues and was not handicapped accessible. But for a group meant to showcase its artists work and bring the community in for classes, Margiotta said, the hidden location made it a difficult place from which to connect with passers-by.

"I used to go to Goucher College," Kat Brenowitz, an artist who was sketching at Towson Arts Collective, said last week. "I did not know this place existed … and everything was, literally, underground art. That's not necessarily bad, but it meant everything was word-of-mouth."

Since the move above ground to the first space on West Chesapeake, Margiotta said it worked "reasonably well."

"But when we've had classes in here, it could inhibit people in the class from doing those messy art —things they need to do — just for fear of bumping into the work," Marigotta said.

The first West Chesapeake Avenue space was more visible, which was positive for the artists whose work was on display, but that created even more space issues.

"In terms of shows, if the membership grows, then the space becomes smaller," Richard Wilson, a Towson resident and arts collective member, said. "To have the membership be able to participate in the ongoing shows, you need a bigger space."

TAC members began looking at sites in order to expand and found the Kinkos site. "It really presents the possibility for community outreach, where people can actually see what's going on," Wilson said.

Margiotta said the newest space would not only allow for more classes and more artwork to be displayed to sidewalk, but also added collaboration with Towson University, which has constructed two displays in the new building to showcase students' work year-round.

The Towson Arts Collective will open its new space on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m., in the former Kinkos space at 40 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson.

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