By Brian Feinzimer
By Charles Lam
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Joel Beers
"I mean, this isn't a normal business," Mike says. "It's artists' studios where people are actually working. We don't want to make it like an amusement park."
Baxter says, "Mike is not a spoiled kid. I mean, I know Pete has some money, but Mike and Candace work hard. They're not getting anything but the power that comes with having a space like that in a conservative city."
According to Mike, the rent money (around $250 per space) goes back into repairs, building expenses, supplies and a little income for Morgan. Unfortunately, abandoning the desire to sell is a luxury that artists worldwide can't afford. Talk to artists after an art walk, and you'll find many long faces and disgruntled whispers registering a night without a single piece sold.
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"I sincerely don't care about selling!" La Tour says, stressing exactly how sincere he is by moving his hands up and down with every word. "I just care about putting on sweet shows every month."
"Yeah, that conversation doesn't even happen here," Elkins says. "I mean, it's nice to sell. But it's almost an afterthought. We think, 'Come if you want, but we'll be here having a good time either way.'"
By the end of 2014, the colony will be open to the public at least one day per week. Docents will be assigned to overlook it while strangers wander in. Whether or not the new format works, it won't be in the same quiet niche forever: The dirt lot across the street is slated to become a fancy apartment building, but the group doesn't seem to be worried about the development. "Something was gonna go up," Candace says. "I'm just glad it's not a mega-bar."
Most of the colonists welcome opening to the public. Despite a couple of assholes who've tagged artists' walls and one really big asshole who slashed a painting during the Mike Atta benefit, the outside world doesn't bring in too many problems. "We're extremely fortunate to decide if we even want to [be] open more," Mike says. "Without my father as the benefactor, we'd have to look at this much more in a real-world sense, but instead, we can just focus on building community."
Pete backs him up. "My son will tell you, I've never been known to sell anything," he says. "You have no idea how many times and how much money I've been offered for that building. Yeah, I think they're hysterical over there, but sometimes, Vic and I say, 'Let's take a break and go see what those clowns are up to!' Every now and then, there's something good. Why would I sell it?"
So Mike just keeps planning. Having finally filled the warehouse with workshops and gallery spaces, the only thing left to do is return to the beginning and once again make Violet Hour a private studio. "This is the last step before the colony is filled," Mike says. "Then we'll move on to the hobby shop across the street. The next stage is fantastic. It's going to be a concert hall with a small bar and display kitchen with the best waiters from here and the best chefs from there. It will be the actual commercial venue. With that in place, perhaps we'll make the colony completely private. Who knows?
"Maybe bigger galleries can even learn from the disorganization and innocence that we have here," he adds. "Art is a bridge, but by itself, it's not going to change the world. It's people who change the world. Which is why I'm not interested in revolution—that's just the ebb and flow, the rise and fall of society. What I'm interested in is evolution, a breaking away from our cyclical nature. How can we ever expect to have peace in other parts of the world when we don't even have it at home?! We can only get there through self-introspection on a local and global scale. And maybe when art, the truest expression of self, is made valuable by society, then that evolution can occur."