Former Crosstown Arts resident Jon Bryant Crawford is currently wrapping up production on Tell Me a Memory, the film project he launched during his residency in the fall of 2018.
He relies on the video editing equipment and software in the Crosstown Arts Shared Art Making facility to help him finish his documentary on queer history and queer life in Memphis.
“For a guy who didn’t even have his own computer, it was really important that I had access to this lab,” Crawford says. “Otherwise, the money I had saved for the interviews would have gotten a lot less bandwidth since I would have had to buy a computer.”
Crosstown Arts’ Shared Art Making facility, located in Suite 177 of Crosstown Concourse (on the ground floor, next to Farm Burger) is a bit like a gym for artists. This new membership-based resource offers the public shared access to art-making equipment and software that they may not have the financial resources to purchase or space in their homes/studios to house.
For Crawford, Shared Art Making offers unlimited access to a private video editing work space with a 27-inch iMac station and equipment to support advanced film/video work, including a volume controller, JBL speakers, a color calibrated screen, and DaVinci Resolve software.
The space, which is open to artists at any level, also features equipment in digital arts, music production, woodworking, printmaking, photography, and more.
“Shared Art Making is a place for people to work on creative projects and for those who need access to professional equipment,” said Shared Art Making Tech Kasey Price. “It’s really for anyone who has passion and focus about their art, whether it’s composing a beat or laser etching a coffee mug.”
"Memphis has five higher education institutions, all of which have arts programs," explains Todd Richardson, co-director of Crosstown Arts. "Students have access to all this high-end equipment while they're in school and learn to make their work using it. But after graduation, they don't have access to it anymore and often don't have the space or funds to own it themselves. The idea behind Shared Art Making is to provide large, expensive equipment and work space that artists need at an affordable monthly fee, where a community of both hobbyists and professionals can naturally evolve and ideas and expertise are shared among members."
The open work space in Shared Art Making offers a digital lab with seven iMac stations equipped with the full suite of Adobe software, plus large-format printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutter, industrial sewing machine, and more.
The professional woodshop features a CNC router for computer-driven precision cutting of a range of materials, stationary power tools, work tables, and common hand tools, among other equipment.
The sound lab offers a private work space with music recording equipment, and the silkscreen studio is fully equipped to create and screenprint images to produce t-shirts, graphic posters, and other projects.
“We’ve seen artists use the equipment in a lot of fun ways — a rabbit house, laser etching images into skateboards, a vinyl chicken woman, and drawer partitions,” says Jamie Harmon, Shared Art Making Manager.
Memberships are $80 a month. There’s no contract so members can leave at any time. Those interested in a free tour can email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by to learn more during open hours: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 am-10 pm; Fridays, 10 am-8 pm; Saturdays, 10 am-6 pm; and Sundays, noon-6 pm.
Artists with children may opt for a membership package that includes childcare (an additional $25 a month) offered through The Well at Church Health (located in Crosstown Concourse’s West Atrium) for up to two hours per day. The childcare option is also available to members when they attend Crosstown Arts events (gallery opening, artist lectures, concerts, etc.), scheduling and availability permitting.
Former Crosstown Arts resident artists Toya and Reuben Levi have two daughters, ages 5 and 11, who stayed with them in their apartment in Crosstown Concourse during their residency stay. Toya says the kids loved the health and fitness activities, which included yoga, ballet, and running on the Church Health YMCA track. They also enjoyed The Well’s culinary activities, such as learning to make healthy snacks in the Church Health Nutrition Hub kitchen.
“We utilized The Well when we had a meeting in the building or when we were making art and being creative. Even if we weren’t working, our daughters wanted go there. They loved the staff and daily activities,” says Toya.
Besides offering a place for artists to grow their own artistic practices, Shared Art Making also allows for creative exchange of ideas as artists of all kinds interact with one another in the space.
“There is some real creative equity in being able to work next to a photographer or a musician or seeing someone making furniture,” Crawford says. “It’s nice to be around other people and get out of your head. As artists, we’re always so stuck in our own heads.”
Shared Art Making members are invited to propose and lead open-to-the-public classes in their area of expertise. Since the facility opened in September, they’ve hosted classes in everything from photography and design to jewelry-making and sound engineering. A full list of classes is available at crosstownarts.org.