A closer look at the artists filling Ypsi's expanding Alloy Studios

Artist Paloma Nunez-Regueiro had a particularly pressing concern while shopping for a new studio space: finding a home for the 600-pound press she'd just moved from Mexico to Ann Arbor.

"I needed a concrete slab floor, and I found way more than that," the Ann Arbor painter and printmaker says.

Nunez-Regueiro and her press will soon join a community of 16 other artists and their tools at Ypsi Alloy Studios, which is expanding little more than a year after opening.

The expansion adds 1,500 square feet to Alloy's 2,440 square feet of existing space at 564 S. Mansfield St. in Ypsilanti. It will include five new, 80-square-foot individual spaces, all of which are claimed, as well as more communal space.

Founded and run by local artists Jessica Tenbusch, Ilana Houten, and Elize Jekabson to fill a gap in workspaces for 3-D artists in the area, Alloy features a woodshop, metalshop, ceramics and metalsmithing shops, and a dedicated finishing area with a spray booth.

Although Nunez-Regueiro is new to the studio – her space just became available this week – she's already impressed by the high level of organization, as well as communication she's received about upcoming open houses, show opportunities, and even group cleaning times. In addition to having her own space, she looks forward to making use of the shared space and tools and the interaction with other artists.

"When many artists get together, amazing things happen," she says. "There's a constant exchange of ideas, of energy, even if we aren’t talking all the time."

Fellow newcomer Barry Nelipowitz also has high hopes for positive collaborations at Alloy.

"Sharing a building with other artists is an incredibly exhilarating experience for me," he says. "I've found that working closely with other artists creates an open dialogue where ideas, opinions, and techniques can be exchanged, and most, if not all, artists benefit."

The mixed-media artist grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and recently moved to Ann Arbor from Seattle. He says having a home away from home for his work is critical to being productive, and Alloy's shared tools will help him cut costs needed for expensive equipment.

They're the kind of resources often made available to new entrepreneurs launching a startup.

"In America we undervalue art and artists as a career path, as opposed to other jobs and careers, which have spaces designed specifically for exchanging ideas and fostering creativity, [like] startup spaces [and] business retreats and ventures," he says. "I feel that artists are often forced to piece together odds and ends."

The duo behind current Alloy tenant LOMO Collective says Alloy has helped them hit the ground running with their new venture. Lauren Mleczko and Molly Doak both received their Bachelor of Fine Art and Furniture Design degrees from Eastern Michigan University in December, and they have been working out of Alloy together since June.

Since graduating, they have focused on woven textiles, furniture, and wooden home goods and jewelry made with exotic woods and inspired by natural patterns and woodgrains.

"Having a space like Alloy means we have an opportunity to work," Mleczko says. "Our process requires a shop with equipment. Being able to be a part of something that fosters a space for artistic explorations and creative business ventures is crucial to our success."

It also provides a little sanctuary at work.

"The property that Alloy Studios is located on is an oasis within the city," Doak says. "Lined by the woods, it is a peaceful environment for you to focus with ease and without distractions."

Besides providing space, the studio also helps promote its artists' work. Alloy will host its second annual Holiday Market and Open Studio on Dec. 10 and 11, and a group show featuring Alloy artists runs Jan. 13-28 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.

Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

Photos by Doug Coombe. Art images courtesy of Paloma Nunez-Regueiro.
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