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December 29, 2017

Portland artist has big plans for crowdfunded studio and teaching space

Renee Cordes
Renee Cordes
Adria Moynihan Rusk opened Still Life Studio in Portland thanks in part to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Portland artist Adria Moynihan Rusk has big plans for the studio and teaching space she opened in September thanks in part to a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than expected.

Still Life Studio, profiled by Mainebiz in August, is located at 82 Elm St., close to Bayside Bowl in the up-and-coming West Bayside neighborhood.

Rusk shares the leased space with a silkscreen artist and a photographer.

Previously with Kate Anker's Running with Scissors artists' collective, Rusk had always dreamed of having her own space in which to create and teach.

"I love my new space," she says. "It's really cool to have something that's designed for exactly what I do, and what I do is fairly unique."

Crowdfunding success

Rusk financed Still Life Studio from a mix of savings and an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign that raised $12,637 from more than 100 backers, all but a handful either friends or friends of friends. That exceeded her flexible goal of $12,500.

Initially reluctant to ask others for money, Rusk is now glad she did it.

"I really ended up feeling like it was a way to bring people into the fold and feel like they were invested in the success of this space, so it ended up being something that I felt really good about," she says.

Along the way, she benefited from free coaching and moral support from her SCORE mentor, Susan deGrandpre, with whom she is still in contact.

The money helped finance massive renovations that ranged from painting to ripping out the carpet -- the hardest part, she says -- to tearing down walls and putting up new ones. Rusk did all that herself with help from friends, except for electrical and other skilled labor.

"I really needed to keep the monthly rent as low as possible," Rusk says. "This is my way of doing that."

The finished space is bright and cheerful, with artwork on the walls and paint brushes and easels at the ready for artists and students.

Lesson plans

There's lots on the agenda for the new year. For a nominal drop-in fee starting in January, interested artists can book time in the studio to work on their own projects — "no instruction given," says Rusk, "just time and space to e creative in the company of others." Open Studio times will be available three times a month, and listed online.

The upcoming class schedule includes Essentials of Drawing, a six-week course from Feb. 15-March 22 for adults of all levels, taught by Reesa Wood; and Modern Art Exploration, for teens from grade seven and up, from Feb. 27-April 3 taught by Abbeth Russell.

Rusk is also open to suggestions for other workshops from interested teachers and students, saying, "If somebody wants to create their own or have a group of their own come, that can be done at any time." Because she needs four or five people minimum for a group lesson, her goal now is to get the word out about Still Life Studio. "I'm trying to really get on the map," she said.

As she settles in to her new art space, Rusk is appreciative of good light throughout the day, particularly in the afternoon.

"I do get some sunsets from here, and I tend to hold most of my lessons and do most of my stuff in the afternoon," she says, adding that she can also do mornings if students prefer. "It depends on what students want."

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