Dear PoP – Artist Studio Space Available in DC?

artspace, originally uploaded by Dave Horne.

“Dear PoP,

I had a question for you that I thought might also be a question the rest of the community would be interested in.

I have a few friends who live in Chicago and are artists. In the city there are spaces available for an artist to rent studio space at a very low price (maybe 200/month for a small, bare room with a desk), and many people do that in order to have their own private workspace away from home. My question is this: Do you know of low-cost art space available in DC? A small room with a table would be more than sufficient, but it would be nice if the room was intentionally there for artists, and rental terms were flexible.

Any ideas?”

Hmm, I spoke with an artist who recommended the Artspace USA Web site. However, I only found some spots in Maryland (and lots in Minnesota…) I’ve heard some talk that there were preliminary talks about some artist lofts becoming available on North Captiol Street but I think that is far from concrete.

Do any artists out there know of any space available? Hipchickindc? Sean from Bloomingdale?

16 Comment

  • I know there are lots of big, empty old buildings around town that would make perfect studio spaces, but unfortunately, I don’t know of anyone who rents these out for this purpose.

  • i can’t remember the names, but there’s one in shaw and, believe it or not, one in penn quarter. i’m sure there are others.

    it might be worth going to some artsy fartsy thing and asking another artist.

  • There are some studios on 14th in Logan – I think over the old brake service building near dakota cowgirl.

  • Maybe the new arts studios should be placed in old Anacostia. Seriously…as one of what Kudlow would call a “musturd seed” for future development.

  • I used to lobby for Artspace a number of years ago. They are based out of MN and have been instrumental in turning around a lot of forgotten neighborhoods around the country. The Mt. Rainier Artspace project also stretches down into Hyattsville. Franklin’s (GREAT and ignored brewery/restaurant on Rt. 1 in Hyattsville) was involved w/ them as well, but not any longer. I actually spoke w/ the owner of Franklins about them recently and he told me that he thinks their business model is kind of past its time in today’s environment, but we didn’t get into the whys of that.

    I’m not sure how the currect real estate market impacts a program like Artspace…on one hand property owners might be glad to have any kind of tenants, even if they are at extremely reduced rates, but on the other, it’s tough to go below market value these days.

  • every time i’ve been to franklins its been busy…i’ve been a fan of their esb since they opened.

    i just saw an add recently for someone looking for a studio mate in georgetown. the jackson school in georgetown is a good place.

    mt rainier is definitely a hotbed of artists. tons of individual and group studios.
    lots of pockets of pg county.
    the pg gateway community project is aiding this and is the best concerted effort in the region to attract artists.

    the only thing along north capitol is 52 o street.
    52 o is having open studios soon too. definitely go to that.

    57 n is, i think, now devoid of artists….
    though cdc is working on some artist live work spaces in noma.
    city vista is going to have some affordable units for artists.

    takoma dc has a big industrial area that has some studios. and its metroable. just east of the tracks.

    brookland has a good industrial area and some defined art studios.

    capitol hill has some.

    few of these places have websites though.
    check out:
    and post on their discussion board.
    also the WPA and Washington Sculptors group are having a happy hour at the warehouse cafe on April 21st from 5:30-8:30.
    if you are an artist in dc, definitely come to that. its open to non-members, but they’ll be membership info if’n you wanna join those groups. you can meet people and ask around for who knows of space. thats the best way to find a studio.

  • Actually there are studio space available in Anacostia provided by ARCH Development and Honfleur, not to mention traditional, digital darkrooms and other high-end printing devices, check here
    You might want to also get on the Cultural Development Corporation’s website, they send out a Housing Scoop email every so often highlighting existing and upcoming artist live work space,
    Last but not least you can check the ArtDC forum will find a ton of stuff there

    Of course I am partial to Anacostia because I am an artist and have been living there for 5 years…
    hope this helps.
    Fred Joiner

  • I just kind of skimmed through but looks like a lot of great info already.

    There is a blog called Arts and Real Estate: by a guy named Paul, who I believe sometimes pops in to comment here at PoP.

    If anyone is looking for darkroom space or pottery wheels to use, I highly recommend Artspace on the 600 block of S St NW, which has cheap open studio time.

    Because I tend to work on artwork late at night, I prefer studio space at home. Right now I’m in the small back bedroom but I am seriously considering switching out my big front bedroom. I’ve decided it’s stupid to waste that much space for sleeping.

    Every time I go back and see what has become of Baltimore, I kick myself for giving up my loft there. I really miss the 20 foot ceilings.

  • “paul” is paul ruppert,the owner of the warehouse cafe. he and his family are among the greatest assets that the dc arts community has.

  • Unlike other cities, DC was never a large manufacturing town, so there was never much in the way of large warehouse spaces like in Philly, Bmore, NYC, Chicago.

    I have a lot of artist friends who want studio space and have had to go out to Hyattsville or Baltimore to get it. Per sq ft, it’s very hard to find affordable studio space in DC relative to other cities. DC landlords want way to much, even for a one-off event space, let alone a live/work space.

    The city also lets ‘big developers’ take over warehouse spaces and tear them down for parking garages for what they deem is acceptable development, rather than nurture arts in the city. It’s kind of a shame we don’t have a space like The Brewery (LA), Crucible (SF) or Knitting Factory (NY) in DC. That would totally awesome. The nearest thing I can think of is the Torpedo Factory (VA) or maybe the Washington Glass School.

    I agree with Sean. The Rupperts are amazing for anchoring the arts in their family-owned buildings. Did they ever resolve their tax bill problem? I thought The Warehouse was closed now.

  • No question DC is a tough town for artist space – i worked forever out of my apartment until found a spot.

    Craigslist is a great resource for commercial rentals – artists, and i’m guilty of this myself , tend to look for terms like “art studio” – but really what you need is just commercial SPACE. ideally with a sink .

  • “I thought The Warehouse was closed now.”

    but they’re open for special events.

  • Check out the amazingly cool live/work 52 O St Studios.

    They have an open house Saturday & Sunday, April 25-26. From their website:

    OCCUPYING 28,000 SQUARE FEET, over four floors, 52 O Street Studios is one of the largest and oldest buildings dedicated to the practice of Fine Arts in Washington, DC.

    52 O STREET STUDIOS is located a short walk from Metro’s New York Avenue Red Line stop, amidst the burgeoning North Capitol Street corridor. The artists working here are proud of this historic building, its idiosyncrasies, and the myriad of artists who have created here in the past.

    TODAY, OUR ICONIC BUILDING IS occupied by painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, woodworkers, and video artists who seek to continue and advance the guiding principle behind its opening in 1979, “to create an affordable working space for artists in Washington DC.”

  • I think some musicians rent space in a building behind Uptown Storage at Upshur and Kansas/Georgia. (Near “Residences at Georgia Ave” and the Shell Sta and PW Library.)

  • hey… please come talk to me!

    i’ve been having the same problem!

    i just moved from nyc and annoyed at how there is nothing here! always a 5-8 yr waitlist deal. i grew up in DC area & just came back after being gone a while…. can’t believe the upsurge of artistic activity happening! it’s incredible! so much going on…. and it seems only to make sense there should be more outlets for artists too… including live/work space.

    for anyone else who’s worked in nyc you probably know there are many buildings devoted just to artists…. and warehouse spaces converted either into working studios with great light & lots of floors etc. and also live-work spaces.

    i actually have an idea for something but the key is to first gather up a solid group of artists of the same mind who can collaborate on this together. anyone can feel free to repost this elsewhere…. there are tons of different ways to go about it. the city has funding, there are ways to raise funds. thinking of some way to propose it to some investors in the event the city, in the event local neighborhood-based community org’s didn’t see enough value in it to invest… which they’d be sortof senseless not to!

    i already have an idea of the neighborhood, and several components to this… what i’m trying to do right now is get together a group of artists together who’d be in on it…. and we can collaborate together and find a way to make it happen. the power of many is a much safer bet than the power of one. (a lot more shared responsibility too!). i am not in the area for that long and definitely in no position to do all the work!

    please write to me! [email protected]


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