ArtYard is delighted to support the launch of Studio Route 29, a progressive art studio for artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities, which opens this fall at our former gallery at 62A Trenton Ave.
Studio Route 29 is excited to be part of a growing movement of initiatives providing community, dignity, income, and an opportunity for adults with developmental and other disabilities to realize their full creative potential.
“People can make whatever they want to make here — paintings, drawings, sculptures, music, sound, textiles, weaving, video performance, installation, puppetry,” says Kathleen Henderson, Studio Route 29’s Executive Director, and founder. “We want to be a space for artists to create a language, experiment, and become comfortable with whatever medium they are drawn to — be it aluminum foil, singing, painting, or Shrinky Dinks.”
Henderson comes to Frenchtown from the Bay Area as a longtime staff artist and magazine editor at the legendary Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, Ca., the country’s oldest and largest progressive art studio for artists with disabilities. She is joined at the organization by Studio Directors Lydia Glenn-Murray, a former director at a neighborhood arts center who brings experience integrating Social and Emotional Learning into arts education programming, and Hop Peternell, a musician, artist, and educator.
Studio Route 29 is working to launch a day program for artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities, offering classes, clubs, and facilitated open work time, all designed around the interests of participating artists. The studio will also launch an on-site exhibition space at 62A Trenton Ave. which will show the work of participating artists. In addition, the studio will host community programming, such as film screenings, poetry readings, a drawing club, and concerts.
“ArtYard has brought so much to Frenchtown through art and community, but especially through acceptance of all people from all walks of life,” said Nanette Elder, special education teacher at Delaware Valley Regional High School’s FIERCE Program. “I am so excited for the opening of Studio 29 which will serve a much-loved part of our community with a safe place to explore the creative and often untapped parts of their lives.”
The vision to plant Studio Route 29 in Frenchtown has roots in ArtYard’s 2019 exhibition, The Creative Commons. It brought together works from the Creative Growth Art Center, LAND Gallery, and the Center for Creative Works, three studios influenced by Creative Growth founders Florence and Elias Katz, whose radical approach to art making and inclusion for adults with developmental disabilities has occasioned a sea change in conceptions of contemporary art and launched more than 300 similar arts centers and myriad acclaimed careers.
“After the success of The Creative Commons, we realized the potential and need for a progressive art studio in Frenchtown,” said Jill Kearney, ArtYard’s Executive Director, and founder. “We are thrilled Kathleen jumped at the opportunity to build Studio Route 29 and we look forward to the possibilities for ArtYard’s visiting artists to collaborate with their artists, creating a new model for bringing traditionally siloed groups together.”
Studio Route 29 is housed in the ArtYard Workshop building, specifically in the two main galleries ArtYard occupied from its inception until the opening of ArtYard Center at 13 Front St. in 2021. ArtYard will maintain a presence in the workshop and warehouse space of the building.
“The building was the testing ground for ArtYard’s identity and vision, hosting art exhibitions, theater, music, poetry, film, newly scored silent films, chamber operas, jazz improvisation, and communal events from memorial services for beloved townspeople to radio plays,” Kearney said. “We are thrilled the building will have a new life and continue to serve as an incubator for creativity and provide much-needed space in this community.”
Studio Route 29’s space is being redesigned to meet the needs of its artists and programming. Studio Route 29 is accepting donations of art supplies and office items like desks, sofas, kitchen appliances, gently used pens, pencils, and flat files. For a full list, visit their website, email [email protected], or call 908.248.2438.
ArtYard and Studio Route 29 will exhibit together at Frenchtown’s Riverfest on Sunday, Sept. 4. At a booth near the dreamlike scale model of Frenchtown ArtYard created for The Memory Palace: Frenchtown at 150ish, the community is invited to meet the Studio Route 29 team and share in weaving a table runner to be unfurled the following week at the Studio’s inaugural community event — a collage and pizza party on Sept. 10 at ArtYard’s Creekside Residency at 50 Trenton Avenue. Anyone interested in learning more about the organization or getting involved can stop by to create a collage over pizza made in ArtYard’s new cob oven.
To learn more about Studio Route 29 and its upcoming events, visit www.studioroute29.org.