Water Street Studios is inviting you to join in the celebration of its landmark 10th Anniversary this September. This nonprofit art center has become the “not-so-hidden” gem of the Fox Valley region over this last decade as it has fueled the careers of thousands of artists and enlightened, entertained and educated hundreds of thousands of people throughout Chicagoland.
It all began as a shared vision of a group of interested community members, talented artists, a generous property owner and the City of Batavia in 2007. This vision turned into a plan a year later when the Batavia Artists Association (BAA) and Water Street Studios was founded, construction within an historic Batavia building began and then opened to the public in 2009.
Co-founder, Joi Austin (Cuartero) says, “The beauty of Water Street Studios is how it is truly a community-driven cultural organization. Where artists, developers, the City of Batavia and patrons of the arts got together to revitalize an historic building into a space of endless creative possibilities. Helping to create the organization gave me a life experience where I found my career path and I made lifelong friends. Water Street literally shaped my life professionally and personally.”
The co-founders all volunteered a significant amount of time and effort, working alongside a growing artist and art-appreciating community, to ensure that Water Street Studios would become the integral cultural hub that it is today.
Austin Dempsey, President of Batavia Enterprises Inc., and a foundational supporter of the organization, stated, “Water Street Studios is an amazing cultural asset in the Chicagoland Area. This organization empowers artists to achieve higher levels of success and engagement by providing resources and a facility that inspires creative endeavors. The education of the next generation of American artists is vitally important to a well-rounded society and Water Street Studios is at the front line of making sure that art and personal expression are supported and encouraged in our community.”
Today, Water Street Studios provides the region with art classes, artist studios, gallery exhibitions, free programs for under-resourced families and schools, events in our historic venue, and more. Lisa Youngdahl, Resident Artist and Board Member shares, “I moved into Water Street Studios nine years ago, primarily as a space for my graphic design business, but also hoping to further develop as an artist. Over the years I have gained confidence and experience from the exposure and encouragement of other artists and the staff, as well as the opportunities offered.”
In 2016, Water Street Studios launched their STEAM program, “Ripple Effect,” to serve third through fifth graders in the community by integrating the arts into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning. The program is generously support by the Dunham Fund. Lindsay Cochrane, Program Director at the Dunham Fund, shared, “Ripple Effect is an innovative program that partners with schools and libraries throughout community. It transforms STEM learning into STEAM learning by integrating the arts into the academic curriculum, making the arts accessible to students across the Fox Valley Area. The Dunham Fund is proud to be a partner with Water Street Studios to support Ripple Effect, which serves more than 1,000 students throughout our community. Congratulations on celebrating 10 wonderful years!”
As a distinctive way to commemorate its10th Anniversary and celebrate its community-focused mission, Water Street Studios is pairing 10 local nonprofits with 10 artists in the community who will create murals for each nonprofit. These murals will be displayed in the alley leading up to the entrance of Water Street’s building. This project, called “Activate the Alley” is generously funded by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.
Julie Christman, Vice President of Community Involvement & Partnerships at the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, says, “I love the positive energy that is present every time I attend an event at Water Street Studios. It’s contagious and makes me want to share the experience with others. I am excited to see what the future holds and hope that more individuals and families will visit and experience the same feelings I have whenever I’m there.”
This sentiment is also shared by funders, artists, community supporters, board members and others. Stacey Sargent sits on the organization’s Board as Treasurer. She shares, “My family’s first experience with Water Street Studios was through onsite classes and exhibits. Now as a Board member, it is truly amazing to see Water Street Studios fulfilling its mission to bring art and art education into the surrounding communities and partnering with community services to bring art to people where they are.”
Richard DeVeau plays many roles at Water Street Studios, including Board member, gallery curator, artist, gallery committee and Artist’s Collective member. Richard shares an artist perspective on the impact that Water Street Studios has in our community, “Being an artist is a lonely vocation. We work long hours in solitude. Our spouses and friends often don’t quite understand what we do, or why. But being part of a community of other artists here at Water Street has helped offset that for me. We all speak the same language. We understand where each other is coming from. And we support and encourage each other and our work. While creating my art is still a solo endeavor, I’m able to be refreshed at the well of this community.”
Water Street Studios uses the arts to connect people to something bigger than themselves. Over its 10-year history, the organization has partnered with many businesses, organizations, and individuals to connect them all to the life-changing benefits of the arts. Christine McFadden, a former Vice President of Water Street’s Board of Directors, says, “Water Street Studios plays an incredibly important role in our community. I’m particularly proud of how the organization supports under-resourced children and families through free and low-cost classes, events, and outreach programs. When you support Water Street, you support others… and in the end, isn’t that why we’re all here?”
As the organization prepares to celebrate its last 10 years, it is also looking into the future to envision what greater things can be built on its foundation of collaboration over competition. Current Board President Jessica Breugelmans shares, “My hope is that Water Street Studios continues to thrive and grow by serving the needs of our community through the arts. I’m thrilled by the many pARTnerships formed in support of our mission with pARTners like, The Holmstad, Aurora and Batavia Public School Districts, Kane County Jail, and others.”
So please join us in celebrating Water Street Studios’ 10-Year Anniversary on September 13, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. The night will feature a silent art auction, special guests, a cash bar, open artist studios, a new art exhibition featuring artist members and invited artists, and more. This event is free, open to the public, and for all ages. Water Street Studios is wheel-chair accessible.
Friday, September 13, 2019 — 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Water Street Studios
160 S. Water Street
Batavia, IL 60510