Since moving to Eugene almost four years ago, I’ve looked for a permanent space for Girls’ Voices Matter. I’ve taught classes at various locations, including my house. I had a hard time finding a place that I could afford and had the space for all of my equipment. Enter the Covid-19 pandemic: all teaching shifted online. That meant I was running the show from my home office in Eugene. I often wondered: would Girls’ Voices Matter get its own space?
A week ago, I came across an article in the Register-Guard about the repurposing of the Smith Family Bookstore on 13thAvenue in Eugene. From the Register-Guard’s October 30, 2020 paper, the article, titled “Galleria at the Smith to bring new life to Eugene’s creative scene,” described the building’s rebirth as an art center. “The Galleria’s studio spaces offer a well socially distanced, economic option to work, sell and be around other artists.”
100 Square Feet?
At first, I thought the space would work for my son, a visual artist who needs more space for painting than what’s available in his small apartment. He wasn’t interested, but my husband and I toured the building anyway. As I walked through the former bookstore, now empty of its millions of books, I started to imagine using one of the studio spaces for Girls’ Voices Matter. Just one problem: at 100 square feet, the spaces were a little small for all of the photography and video equipment I need in order to teach filmmaking classes: lights, cameras, tripods, green screen, computers, etc.
Amazingly, a larger area—one of the rare 150 square foot spaces—had just become available. There it was: space #23, in the northwest corner of the second floor. I stood looking out at the other studio spaces, filled with a variety of quirky, beautiful creations: puppets, paintings, cloth sculptures, wooden signs, drawings, collages and metalwork. I knew I wanted to be part of this community.
Still, I had to think about it. I asked Jess, the building’s manager, to reserve the space for a day. Late that night, I woke up with pre-buyer’s remorse: had I forgotten about the pandemic? In-person teaching won’t be possible for many months, and who knows when I’ll get the Covid vaccine (yes, I’m on the list).
My husband, as he often does, reminded me that things will surely change. The building is enormous, with high ceilings and good ventilation. All of the artists wear masks and socially distance. I can use this time to get to know the space, do some creative work there, meet the other artists, and plan for teaching when it’s safe to do so.
On Saturday, February 13, I became the proud occupant of space #23. You can see our progress from the photo above. I think it’s fantastic to have a little corner of one of the best bookstores I’ve ever gotten blissfully lost in.
I’ll keep you posted regarding our progress as Girls’ Voices Matter’s new space takes shape. Things are looking up!