Art complex gets new look

The Sacramento Art Complex has gotten a major makeover.

New gallery owner Clare Bailey has transformed the artists’ building at 2110 K St. since taking over the master lease with building owner Thomas A. Roth in May.

The colorful and eclectic two-story structure, which has always been packed for Second Saturday Art Walks, was reworked to draw more people into the many smaller studios at the heart of the complex. The building now has a sophisticated new look featuring a 1,200-square-foot anchor gallery, a parking lot that doubles as an art courtyard and an alley patio with a giant metal peacock sculpture.

Resident artists like sculptor Gary "Garley" Dudley and photographer Alister Oliver said the remodel has invigorated their work as well as the building.

"It motivates us more. Energizes the whole place," Dudley said recently as he sculpted a small figure in his studio.

The complex was closed for renovation for two months and reopened July 1. The public has two upcoming opportunities to see the changes. The grand opening for the next exhibit, Cars & Cigars, will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday and a Second Saturday Art Walk event will be held from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday.

The 1950s-era building had long since been divided into single-room offices when Roth bought it eight to 10 years ago. About three years ago, he brought in downtown art gallery owner Barry Smith to create the Sacramento Art Complex. The building has consisted of single- and double-room artists’ studios connected by hallways since then.

Bailey used her interior decorating skills and experience as owner of Blue Wing Art Gallery and Custom Framing in Woodland to create or redesign the building’s common spaces to increase traffic to the building and individual artists’ studios.

Seven studios were torn out of the front to build Gallery 2110, a new anchor gallery with rotating monthly shows to bring in foot traffic. The front gallery will feature art from resident and visitor artists.

New glass doors were added at the back of that gallery to allow visitors to flow easily to artists’ studios on both floors. Previously, artists decorated the doors to their studios in a kaleidoscope of colors. Longtime visitors will notice a new, subdued color palette inside and out. Art that once filled the hallways has been removed to improve flow and give visitors more reasons to enter studios.

"It was just visual overload," Bailey said.

The parking lot also got a makeover so art shows could flow out into that space. Ten huge oleander bushes were ripped out to expose a wall and create space for new landscaping and metal sculptures.

Using the $75,000 renovation as a springboard, Bailey has begun launching events and encouraging artists to mingle with the public in new ways.

Thursday evening, Oliver will stage a live fashion shoot in the courtyard area using models and up to six cars, including a Lamborghini, Porsches and a Bentley. Inside, a cigar aficionado will hand-roll cigars, and a collector’s Sunbeam Tiger muscle car will share center stage with art.

Bailey built a mezzanine loft on the second floor to feature the work of one or two resident artists each month.

She also turned a storage space at the back of the building into a patio. A 40-foot-wide peacock sculpture, its tail feathers made of rebar and sawblades, overlooks a lounge area and huge table from atop an iron gate blocking entrance from the alley. Metal artist Steve Cook made that and other assemblage sculptures at the complex.

Two bathrooms were remodeled, and a handicapped-accessible bathroom was added. Other touches include new lighting and fire sprinklers, plants and other landscaping. Resident artist Margaret Arnold painted an Art Deco sign across the front of the building and a mural door frame on the side.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday. The gallery is closed Sunday through Tuesday. The Sacramento Artists Council will hold its first Masquerade Gala at Gallery 2110 on Nov. 20.

The number of artists at the complex has more than doubled from 11 tenants in May to 26. Studios rent for $300 to $500 a month. Only three vacancies remain, Bailey said.

Artists said the changes have made it easier to showcase their work and bring in clients.

"I’m lovin’ it," Dudley said. "We just hope the rest of the city loves it as we do."

Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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