Inside the Artist’s Studio is Artful Living’s exclusive look into the innovative, intimate lifestyles of creatives. The studio is a place of curating, of inspiring, of creating. These distinctive spaces play an essential role in the artist’s process and are a direct reflection of the personality and attention to detail that go into each work of art.
St. Paul artist Anne Labovitz’s practice includes painting, drawing and printmaking as well as experimental film and sound. Her work is often shaped by her enduring interest in people: the human spirit, its emotional resonance and the way it manifests in relationships. She recently began incorporating text, audience engagement and public interventions in her work as a vital element of her creative method.
How would you describe your studio?
My studio is large and well-lit with high ceilings. It is a rough space designed to be a platform for rigorous work and contemplation. Often the floor is covered in wet paintings.
The key to my studio is the adaptability of the space. I alter the setup depending upon what I am working on. For example, I can accommodate large-scale woodcuts with the use of a pulley system I installed. When I’m not working in that medium, I tie up the pulley system to remove it from my visual field. This allows me to pick up where I left off without cumbersome setup. I highly recommend it to any creative as it removes the burden of setup and teardown each day, so the workplace fosters the flow of creativity and vicissitude!
How long have you been in this space?
I have been in this space for six years. I love this building and am expanding my studio to roughly double my space this month! I can hardly wait!
What are your studio must-haves?
The central piece is a very large, flat, mobile surface. I have four large tables on wheels, all the same height with storage and drying racks underneath. When pushed together, they make an 8-by-8-foot usable surface. The table is covered in raw canvas to collect the drippings of my work. These drippings become my studio journal. After a year, I create something with the canvas to archive those memories and experiences.
Other basics include stable nails on the wall for hanging artwork, a sink, storage files, an espresso maker, a fridge, a table for writing and video editing, a printing press, and lots of light. My first addition to the studio was blasting it with halogen and fluorescent lights as there is only one small window.
How does this space foster creativity?
The studio is always ready for me. Everything is out and in process. The first thing I do each morning is survey my work. I put everything up on the walls. Because I work on several things at one time and in series, the studio environment I have created allows works in dialogue to be in close proximity to each other. It is the opposite of going into a gallery where things have been curated for the viewer. In my studio, the walls are integral to the creative process.
Because its essential components are on wheels, my studio can easily transform into what I need. I am not hampered with cumbersome rearrangements, allowing me freedom to create without breaks in concentration. It is a true working space facilitating grit and rigor. It beckons me to get to work.
What’s the best part of having a studio in the Twin Cities?
The Twin Cities has a thriving art scene: museums, galleries, artists, music, artist-run spaces, book arts, festivals, etc. I consider being an arts advocate part of my professional practice, which in turn has been enriched through the art community. Currently, I am serving my sixth year on the Walker Art Center board, and I co-chaired this year’s Avant Garden. I have found that both the programming at the Walker and exposure to its artists and curators provide a vital source of broader national and international perspective.
I also spent six years serving on the Weisman Art Museum board. Because of its affiliation with the University of Minnesota, unique opportunities to engage in art-related events emerge constantly: artist-led spaces and projects, film and music events, collaborative and community-engaging projects. The Twin Cities has many institutions, large and small, that provide a culture that supports and fosters the arts.
I love being able to open my studio for appointments with visitors, sharing my creative oeuvre. The interactions and exchanges with guests enhance my practice and stimulate new thoughts and directions.
The studio is not a calm place. It is very alive and has a vibe and an energy that’s palpable when you walk in. It arises from the vitality of my work, the energy surrounding my work, and the motion, experimentation and rigor I practice. The studio is a place for the physicality of the work, but the creative practice spills out and is extended into the community.