VCU’s impact on the downtown Richmond area is undeniable.
VCU’s impact on the downtown Richmond area is undeniable. While some argue for better and others for worse, the landscape has made room for enlightened and open hearted students and recent grads to open new avenues with their artwork.
While seeing all this happen right before his eyes, and opportunities coming from all different directions Ian Hess was able to create and become the founder of Endeavor RVA studio right in the heart of Richmond’s Art district.
With the help and support of fellow classmates such as Eli McMullen, Christina Wingchow, and Alexander WuWei, Hess has been able to build up Endeavor RVA studio for the past year. Opening the studio was definitely an achievement of Hess’, however; there were some rough times along the way.
Endeavor RVA organizers from left: Hess, McMullen, Wingchow, Amobi (an artist who showed at the gallery last month), Beck, and Wuwei
“The biggest challenge was getting the group involved and get us to work as a collective,” Hess said. “Getting everyone involved due to conflict of schedules and planning was difficult at first, but fast forward to now and everything has worked out.”
Getting everyone involved is always tough when starting out, but for the most recent addition to the group, Alex Beck, it was very organic. “I’ve been working outside of Endeavor for awhile now, and then we became friends,” he said. “We would work outside of the studio and just collaborate on something and then there was an opening in the studio, so we decided we can keep the bond going.”
With the final member coming together, Endeavor looked like more than just a rough and tumble group of artists. With the camaraderie around the room, you could tell that the group pieces together like a puzzle perfectly.
Not only do they share the common interest of art and culture, but they also share the common interest in what they hope to accomplish as a studio.
“… We have a heavy sense of local based art, but that is going to expand soon,” Beck said. “We all know the importance of community and how the community can create something bigger, so currently we are trying to engrave ourselves in the local community.”
Endeavor has a very relaxed approach to how they separate themselves from other studios in Richmond. The common approach to the studio is to have an open accessibility to the people around the city.
“A lot of people have to told us that our environment is more so chill, and it’s a place people can hangout at,” said Wingchow. “People will pop up and peek through the window or stick their head in the door just to say something positive and keep walking.”
Because Endeavor is a very open place, they are very open to hosting events and shows in the studio space. “We necessarily don’t pick the shows, the shows pick us,” said WuWei.
“It has evolved from us going to people we knew having shows through our space, to artist coming to us now asking to throw a show,” said McMullen.
As up and coming artist who also own the space, the artist of Endeavor RVA all aim for specific perceptions and takes on their artwork. Beck’s work focuses on concept art and illustration. “When it comes to my artwork I give people the whole puzzle, and then I take away a piece,” he said. “The reason I do that is because I want my art pieces to have longevity.”
Wingchow’s artwork primarily focuses on color. “In 2012 I saw my artwork evolve from organic art to me bringing in more cartoon designs in my artwork,” she said. “I kind of held back on what I wanted to paint while being at school.”
McMullen was first focused on painting urban architecture, but has since moved away from photographic reference, changing the make up of his work. “I fused abstract color and paint, to allow the viewer to access a space that they may never see,” he said.
All the artist in Endeavor RVA bring something different to the table, but they all inspire each other. “Having a community space and area we can all vibe off of each other is a reason why I continued to do art after graduation,” McMullen said.
Be sure to come out tonight and celebrate the on year anniversary of Endeavor RVA during First Fridays, but don’t expect Endeavor RVA to go anywhere any time soon. After renewing the lease on the location, the group plans to continue to work and build the community around their artwork.
“I see the potential of Endeavor and I truly don’t see us going anywhere for a long time,” Hess said.