Best Artist Community - 2011
Wazee Union/Walnut Workshop
S. Brian Smith and Neil Adam wheel and deal real estate, but to them, a building isn't just a building. When they saw an empty warehouse and former factory wasting away down by the railroad tracks off of Brighton Boulevard, they envisioned creating something modern and bold, a community-builder with a concrete floor. And so Wazee Union was born. Inspired by such communal artist colonies as the Third Ward in Brooklyn, they sectioned off nearly fifty studio spaces of varying sizes and rented them, cheap, to artists, crafters, designers and creative small businesses. Not surprisingly, those spaces were snapped up like that and are now rarely empty for more than a couple of days. But artists don't just work here; they also show their work: The thriving community hosts juried gallery shows, Second Saturday open houses and other arts-oriented events. The project has been so successful that Walnut Workshop, a sister enclave, is now open right across the tracks, and Smith and Adam have plans for more retooled properties in the works.