Local Artists Find Their Creative Space
For part-time artists, juggling career, home, and family can be challenging. Some find the solution in a Third Space, a place where their talents can mature. Community Voices producer Marika Snider talks with two local artists about finding their Third Space.
Ron Rollins and Terry Welker come from very different places. Ron is a newspaperman, and Terry is an architect. Ron was interested in art from a young age but pursued a career in writing. When he's creating art, Ron makes a quick sketch with colored charcoal, and strikes it with a wide brush. Bold black slashes careen across the canvas. Ron squirts, throws, brushes, and drags color on to the painting.
"My day job is that I’m the Senior Editor of the Dayton Daily News. The best job I had at the Dayton Daily News was being the Arts and Entertainment Editor," he says.
This was about 10 years ago. He was painting on the side, but he mostly kept it to himself because of the conflict of interest. He was one of the people deciding which artists to write about – and he did much of the writing himself. Then, after he changed jobs….
"Terry [Welker] was the one who said, you don’t have that excuse any more. You can’t hide behind your day job to not show this stuff."
About 4 years ago, a loose artist collective called Dayton Circus Sideshow had an open call for a community art show. Ron timidly asked if he could participate, and, "I got a good reception to it. People liked it. And I’ve been kind of showing since, anywhere that I can."
Terry Welker, on the other hand, had his own architecture firm downtown, and is now the Chief Building Official for the City of Kettering. H e also began working on the City of Seven installation in the Experience Center at the Dayton Art Institute. And Terry was in charge of the earth and sky. He started to think about how children think about clouds in the sky. They are never just clouds. They are shapes with meaning. So he began to make mobiles.
"There’s nobody to teach you this stuff," says Terry. "I really just had to study by looking."
Unlike Ron’s art, Terry’s work is much more methodical. He bends and snips wire. He cuts the metal plates with scissor-like tin snips. Pieces are machined for smoothness, or bent and sliced on a 36” metal brake. Then the hundreds of individual pieces are deftly assembled in the studio.
"Architecture happens during the day and the sculpture happens at night, on weekends, and on vacation," he says.
As they continued to work, it became clear that they needed a dedicated creative space. A third space, one, which was neither, home or work. Ron first started working in his garage, and then winter came. So when his son left home for college, he took over the bedroom.
Terry was working in a very small space in his basement, "I was constantly running up and down the stairs to go look at color in sunlight."
"And my son’s bedroom was very dim," Ron says.
Terry had actually been thinking about moving into a larger space for a long time, but it took a while to make the plunge. And to find his third space.
Ron describes a third space as, "The space that is not forcibly, but purposefully removed from those others where you can pause and do something that is totally unrelated to home, chores, and work."
"Without judgment," Terry adds.
Their studio in Town & Country shopping center had been a sign company about 10 years ago and vacant since. The best thing about the space is the floor to ceiling windows. A huge improvement on the basement workshop and upstairs bedroom. The space is about 800 square feet, a little larger than a generous 3-car garage.
"So, we have the Poetry Room with the sink and the commode in it," Ron says giving a tour of the space. "We have a little hallway with bookshelves and our bourbon bar. But then in the main room, there are three spaces. That kind of evolved. There’s Terry’s end, and there’s my end, and then there’s the middle where we are sitting now."
Ron recently found out that he's going to be able to have three paintings on display at the Brookville branch of the Dayton Metro Library, which he says, "is nice. Yes, that’s really validating."
Terry agrees, "It’s one of the hard things as an artist, is to get validated."
And that’s what the Third Space has done for Ron Rollins and Terry Welker.