-by Ryan Ann-
The Bakery will be holding an Arts Flea Market on December 3rd from 1-7pm at 1007 Bigley Avenue. During the Charleston Music and Arts Collective’s new venue debut, artists will be selling art supplies, equipment, and music gear, as well as their own finished works.
“Wendy Swiger with WWA Portrait Painters first came to me with the idea of a big art yard sale. She has been moving studios from Fayetteville to Charleston and she’s trying to downsize some of her art supplies. But she had so many great items, she couldn’t just throw them out,” said Corey Zinn, owner and music producer at Honey Pot Studios.
“She has all these great paints, easels, drafting tables, painting projectors. She’s got a lot of it in this group: Check the photos. Wendy wanted to pass down her trade to starting artists who can’t afford to buy brand new equipment. It’s a really great opportunity for artists, musicians, photographers, and makers of all kind to clean out their studios and pass down trades. We’ll have a few folks doing demonstrations, such as Leah Towler and Jana Kristeen.”
There are so many great artists at the old bread factory. The building was built in the 1920’s, then had a huge add-on in the 1950’s. The actual factory shut down around the 1980’s and was later purchased by a man named Phil Shafer.
Phil Shafer’s vision for the building was to use is as a storage space for manufacturers and logistics companies, but artists quickly caught wind of the opportunity for cheap studio and practice space. Since then, music and the arts have been a huge driving factor of the place.
Many Charleston musicians got their start at the Bakery, most renting old offices to practice out of and using the easy-to-access docks to load gear in and out. The WV Children’s Theatre has up until recently been located at the Bakery, but has since moved to a new location, leaving a gap in Phil’s revenue. For a while, Phil considered the selling the building, but when Chris Ojeda, lead singer of Byzantine, began promoting the space to artists, within a couple weeks most spaces were rented out.
There’s a really cool new wave of artists coming out of the Bakery. Photographers, spray paint artists (like local artist Kenneth McBrayer), woodworkers (like Casi Pourfarhadi), a screen printer, and many more musicians, including the band Static Fur. What’s different now is that the tenants have been banding together to make sure the Bakery stays afloat.
Chris Ojeda, Jason “Roadblock” Robinson, and Dennis Strom have been leading a new non-profit: the Charleston Music and Arts Collective. Creating this Collective was agreed to be the best way to add a piece to the bakery that was everyone’s and to ensure there was a breeding ground for up-and-coming young artists and musicians to thrive in Charleston.
Often live music shows are restricted to bars that younger folks can’t and shouldn’t go into. However, the Collective’s idea is to create a venue that gives them a place where they can come and enjoy live music as well, ensuring Charleston’s future in the arts and a continued interest in music with the younger scene.
The venue is now somewhere in the middle of its renovations. So far, it’s looking great with a new stage, lots of repairs, and more open space. The Collective’s new venus isn’t yet complete, but still needs a new wave of funding, so they went ahead and decided put on shows this weekend. There had been discussions about something like this Arts Flea Market in the past, and so they decided to make it happen for the first time in the Bakery’s history.
The Bakery has been a part of Charleston for at least 20 years, but the average Joe didn’t know where the artists were getting their start. For many, it was at the Bakery, and now the tenants realize that the benefits of the Bakery can no longer be a secret if they want the arts scene here to thrive. What we have been experiencing for the past half year is the tenants banding together. This has never happened before, so it is exciting to see what will come of it.
“I entered the bakery along with all the commotion,” said Corey Zinn. “I started Honey Pot Studios, a music and arts production studio, with producer and guitarist Kevin Farrell and artist Jana Kristeen. It’s been amazing to be an active part of the Charleston scene. There’s just a really cool culture at the Bakery — Artists can be themselves. I’ve met so many musicians and artists just walking in the door.
On an average day, you’ll roam around the building and hear live music echoing through the old hallways. It’s an otherworldly experience. People don’t understand the gift we have here. The building itself has such gritty character, but the people just need a home. If the bakery wasn’t around, sure, all those artists would find a way. We always do. But they would have to scatter and the arts scene would slow to a crawl. If you want to know why Charleston is the way it is, you wouldn’t see the full picture without understanding this building and those who have been coming in and out.
Arts organizations are always trying to bring opportunity to aspiring artists, but it often falls short due to bureaucratic nature of nonprofit boards. Artists can’t afford much. They risk their wellbeing for their passions until they find a way to sustain. It’s tough! That’s why the bakery’s cheap space is necessary. We can’t milk our artists for all they’re worth and expect them to make Charleston better on their own. We have to give them as much opportunity as possible, so they may thrive and make Charleston together.”
The Music and Arts Collective is still registering vendors for donations.
Call Corey Zinn to register at (304) 710-5817.