Studio Two Three (S23) is bringing art to the people– literally.
The brick and mortar art studio recently revamped an old truck, turning it into Studio Two Three To-Go, a mobile printmaking and photography studio on wheels.
Ashley Hawkins, Studio Two Three’s executive director and one of its co-founders back in 2009, said she’s wanted to do the mobile studio long before it even made since to do so. Now, with all of the growth and expansion S23 is having, it does.
The retail sales are robust, the demand for field trips and workshops are high, and about 60 artists have 24/7 access to the studio.
“Those are kind of the necessary elements and then we just love the idea of this go-go gadget print truck so we can reach people who might otherwise never know what printmaking is,” Hawkins said.
Since it first started rolling around town a couple of months ago, S23 To-Go has done more than two dozen events and is booked almost every weekend.
Hawkins said the truck is basically a mobile billboard connecting the S23 team to people in and around Richmond at festivals and events.
“It’s seamlessly integrated into our operations as if we’ve always had it,” Hawkins said.
Now that S23 To-Go is up and running, the shop is working to expand into the building next door to it, adding about 6,300 square feet to the West Cary Street studio. Hawkins said they hope to have everything completed by September.
Hawkins wants the studio’s growth to be more than physical, though.
She said S23 wants to serve the Richmond community by being a place for the professional development of artists, a retail destination for artwork made in Richmond by Richmonders, one day increasing the number of artists they’re able to serve, and maybe even providing an artist residency program.
“Growth for us is really being a holistic resource for working artists and inspiring artists in Richmond,” Hawkins said.
She said every day is chaos but in an exciting way right now.
“We’re very privileged to come here every day and have this be our work and have the stress of growth and success be our stressor and what we’re grumbling about,” Hawkins said. “It’s trying not to lose perspective on that.”
She said the most rewarding thing about leading S23 is connecting donors and supporters of the arts with an opportunity to make a real difference in the Richmond community for years to come.
Hawkins said it’s hard to describe exactly what S23 is because it’s something different for everyone, and Richmonders should come experience it themselves.
“They should come in the door and see the potential of being a part of this space whether as an artist member with 24/7 access, as a class taker, a shopper,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s hard and we struggle to explain what Studio Two Three is but I also think there is some magic in this building and just getting people in the door will help make it clear.”
*Photo from S23 Instagram