D’Art Center finds new home in Norfolk’s arts district

D'Art Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Earley

 

 

 

 

NORFOLK

The d’Art Center artists displaced last April by an explosion at the Selden Arcade have finally found a home – for now.

The nonprofit organization announced Thursday that roughly 20 artists will move to the arts district. They will occupy the first two floors of the Duke Grace building, at 740 Duke St.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the general feeling is we’re just happy to move forward and get back to business,” said Carolyn Phillips, executive director of the d’Art Center, an arts organization that provides work space for artists.

It’s a move that brings some stability to the artisans who had been waiting for months to hear whether they could return to the Selden, which was closed after an electrical-related fire.

But the journey for the d’Artists is not over. During the two years they’ll be in the Duke Grace building, the d’Art Center will be searching for a permanent home for the artists, one that’s better suited for their craft.

The announcement comes one day after The Virginian-Pilot reported that the city is seeking proposals on the purchase, lease and redevelopment of the Selden.

While that news seemed to remove any possibility that the d’Art Center would return to the Selden, a city spokeswoman on Wednesday would not confirm it.

“No, I never said that,” city spokeswoman Lori Crouch said, when The Pilot sought to verify that the d’Artists would not reinhabit the Selden. “We have a lease with them through March.”

However, Phillips said Thursday that her organization and the city mutually decided “over the past couple of months” that the d’Art Center would not return to the Selden.

On Thursday, Crouch emailed news outlets a prepared statement from Mayor Paul Fraim and City Manager Marcus Jones.

“The city would like to congratulate d’Art on its new home in the Arts District,” Jones said in the statement. “The City and the d’Art organization worked closely together the last several months to identify space in the Arts District and we look forward to seeing d’Arts 22 artists create amazing works in their new space.”

Around the end of the year, a number of the artists moved out of the rent-free space in the PNC Bank building where they had been working temporarily, just a few blocks from the Selden. The building’s owner, Harbor Group International, had found a tenant for the space, they said.

Two of the artists seemed less than enthusiastic about the new location.

“It’ll do for now,” said painter Janice Gay Maker, who took a tour of the new work space a month or so ago.

She added that she liked that she would have a window, but she said she and the other artists would have less space than they had at the Selden.

Mark McFarlane, a goldsmith, said he doesn’t like the Duke Street spot.

“No, I don’t,” he said. “I call it the art ghetto. … It’s got no (foot) traffic.”

In a decade, McFarlane said, the arts district will likely be a safe, comfortable place where more people live.

“For right now, it’s not that,” he said. “It’s a lot of what I call graffiti on the walls.”

The lease begins in February, but Phillip Decker, whose family owns the five-story building, said “as soon as they get the OK, they can move in as soon as they want.”

“I’m glad to be a part of the solution,” Decker said. “It is something we’ve been working on diligently for a while.”

Phillips said the City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to provide a grant to help pay rent on the two-year lease. Crouch said the grant would be $126,522.

If the council approves the grant, Phillips said her organization would end up paying the same rent as it did at the Selden – just over $39,000 a year.

As for a more permanent space, McFarlane said the d’Art Center has already created a committee to find one.

Phillips said the group has looked at several locations, but she would not share details about their search.

To find Virginia Beach local artists contact FrameWorx

 

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