Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Mercury Studio's space at #407 North Mangum Street
Here is the skinny. Two young Durhamanians, uninspired by their grind it out nine to five options, looked around the landscape of our city and said to themselves; "there is room to open a collaborative space where individuals and small businesses can work, bond, build and thrive." The exact definition of their space is purposefully amorphous because they want to leave room for their confederates, who have the options to lease desks or studios, as well as floating cafe memberships, by the month, half year or year, to participate in the co-creation of the environment.
This is not to say Katie DeConto, the Community Director, and Megan Jones, the Art Director, don't have plans. They do. And things have really started to come together since they leased the fabulous space at #407 N. Mangum Street. You can check out the floor plan here. The highlights include 2457 sq.ft., with six studios, a conference room for members and community use, and a kitchenette1. If you are a cafe member who doesn't lease a permanent desk, there are even locker spaces for storage.
DeConto's and Jones's vision is that Mercury Studio is far more than a place to merely work. They both spent time job searching and entrepreneuring out of coffee shops with Wifi. They are trying to take things to a much higher level. For example, they are going to publish a quarterly newsletter touting upcoming events, highlighting the projects and achievements of their members. Mercury Studios intends to promote its members and provide a space for them to host events. Anyone in the arts or creative industry knows this kind of marketing support is essential, but so hard for the creator of the work to find time to do. They are going to have special satellite memberships for artists who might already have a studio, but want to connect monthly with other artists.
On an even more elevated plain, it is their vision that members will partner, collaborate and co-create. They hope to replicate more of the collective spirit of the university than the atomized individualism of the earbud wearing Starbucks customer. They see, not a bunch of individuals in the same place working alone, but rather a like minded group of energetic, driven, inspired Durhamanians networking and co-creating at a level above and beyond the traditional glad-handing and business card exchanging at a Chamber of Commerce event. DeConto and Jones both intend to continue pursuing their own work at Mercury Studio.
Jones has been an artist for most of her life. She started in oil painting, and in recent years has moved on to drawings and collages. She found herself drawn to paper and old books and working within the more limited medium of collage, which gradually led to book binding, specializing in Coptic stitching2.
DeConto is starting an additional division of Mercury Studio that will provide online marketing, editorial, and web design services to a variety of clients. She will be the project manager, pulling in freelancers and additional partners, as needed, ideally, from the ranks of the Mercury Studio members.
It is a post-modern conception. Commentators from as far afield as Berlin, New York and San Francisco have been pointing their compasses toward Durham in the last year or two. We are adventurous and creative.
Mercury Studio, welcome to the stage.
You can help fund their IndieGoGo here.
1They are waiting to hear on a grant from the City of Durham, with possible kitchen expansion in mind.
2Jones plans to get back into oil painting with the additional space provided by Mercury Studio, in comparison to her home based studio now.