How we came to be

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Bare Bone Studios for Women's Art is a business owned by Bone (a.k.a. Carolyn Shafer) and Marilyn Frye, and managed by us and Keyosha, all long-time members of the Lansing, Michigan women's community. Marilyn is a professor of philosophy and women's studies at Michigan State University. Keyosha is a union pipefitter and one-woman community networking service. Bone teaches art at Lansing Community College and consorts with Working Women Artists (a sixteen-year-old local association of exactly what it says), as well as lately with a certain geekier element.


Well, it seems that Bone needed a studio for her own art-making. At first she thought she might find a nice, grungy warehouse in a typical artist habitat and divide it up to share with other women artists. But the more we explored that idea, the clearer it became that what we all really need is not just little cubbyholes to work in but access to art-making equipment and environments and, even more important, to artistic community. So, we evolved the plan:

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We found two likely-looking derelict buildings in Lansing's Old Town, and succeeded in rehabbing one of them and making inroads on the other before we ran out of funds. On February 4, 1996 we opened the ground floor of 1236 Turner St. as communal art-making space with a gallery--think graduate school without the professors. The ground floor of 306 Clinton St. housed, and houses, our ceramics equipment. (See Our facilities for a fuller description of same.) Well-known and eminently qualified members of our women artists' community co-ordinated the several studio areas, most notably Linda Kalinich Spyke in printmaking/papermaking, Barbara Channer Thomsen in hand-built ceramics, and Ruelaine Stokes in the darkroom, along with Bone in painting and the gallery. We offered a tempting quarterly schedule of workshops lead by us and our friends, including painter/graphic designer Barbara Hranilovich and jeweler Miriam Danu, and a bi-monthly exhibition of serious work by women artists, solo and in groups. Every Monday evening we held an open studio, when folks could use the place for free and schmooze with their cohorts. It was all a great success d'estime and quite wonderful, really--except that not enough other artists came to play in the studios after all and not enough folks bought the splendid artwork we showed. Hence, Plan B:

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As of January 2001, we regretfully closed the gallery and converted it and about half of the rest of the floor space to individual studio spaces. We have kept the large painting studio, the printmaking studio, the darkroom and the ceramics area as communal resources, available for the use of studio-mates as well as other artists. At this point, though we miss our more active community involvement, we are no longer headed straight for bankruptcy and we actually have more artists hanging around more of the time. Go figure.


We have every intention of keeping on keeping on, participating in the renaissance of Old Town, which--Lansing being the special amalgam of blue-collar city, state capital, and university town that it is--is so far becoming culturally richer without being taken over by the gentry, and rousing rabble as appropriate. We still have high hopes of one day finishing the rehab of the step-child building...and getting Bone into her own studio. Maybe we'll even be able to re-open the gallery eventually. (Anyone know where we can find $75,000 or so?) Meanwhile, we're pretty happy and productive. You should come and see.

Well, a different future has overtaken us. We still have a private foothold in Old Town, but we are no longer in the studio business, as of September 2006. Our best wishes to friends, and we hope you find this archival site of interest and inspiration.


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This page was last modified on Tuesday, December 11, 2007.

Bare Bone Studios site, including all text and images,
© Carolyn Shafer, 2003-2010.
Contact: cs [at] cybersmithwebworks [dot] com