Olive St. offers eclectic experienceWritten by Robert Holman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Olive St. Studios live in an 8,000-square-foot warehouse converted into a mishmash of eclectic studios, impromptu gathering spaces and a random gallery seething with art crossing the media spectrum. Eleven artists lease the space on Ottawa Street, overlooking the Maumee River at the base of the west side of the High Level Bridge.
Established in 1990 on Olive Street, the studios moved Downtown in 2000 when the East Side building changed hands. Brain Juchartz acts as a leader for what he said is “more like a commune.”
“Brian is the person who might be in charge because he collects the rent money. He is the one who signs the lease. We function as a co-op. Nobody’s really in charge. We come and go as we please. We work independently and as a group,” long time group member Jessica Besterman said.
The group is planning a Fourth of July festival, with food, drinks, exhibits and live music starting about 5 p.m. The cover charge will include parking, a benefit as the studio is a great location to see the fireworks.
“What we’re trying to do is generate some awareness. Stay within the ebb and flow of the art scene,” Juchartz said. “We hold these events for patrons of the arts and enthusiast. We put on a show and a visual arts show. It’s an art exhibit with a party twist.”
The group wants the party to rival its annual Big Head Ball.
“Our main event that really draws a crowd is the Big Head Ball. It is near Halloween, it is sort of like a costume party. This year we want to make it a two-night event. The first night will be a gallery opening and more sophisticated and the second night will be the party,” Besterman said.
Besterman works in oil on canvas. Her paintings, as big as three feet by four feet, use aggressive strokes. The highly contrasting colors create depth. Generally, her work has a main figure with oversized eyes, following and tugging at viewers. Closer inspection reveals important background details that add to the paintings’ emotion.
Juchartz is creating high-tech wood burnings. He uses a slightly modified commercial laser printer to produce detailed relief figures. The small grooves create shadows so the images vary as viewers move. The wood grain adds another dimension to the effect.
Brad Bechtal also uses a naturally grained surface in his current work. He is creating subtle and shaded graphite drawings on polished marble. He said the hardest part is not wiping off your own work. The graphite barely sticks to the marble so the finished product is displayed under glass.
Even though the studios do not have regular business hours, the group is seen as an important part of the Toledo art scene.
“They are a really strong group of artists. They were one of the first collective groups working Downtown. They have been a force in contributing to the vitality of Downtown and the art community,” Mark Folk, executive director of the Toledo Arts Commission, said. “They were the home of the first Meet and Greet in the fall 2004.”