Studios on the Park, Inc. (Studios) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a creative, educational, and transformational experience to enhance understanding and appreciation of the visual arts.
Studios on the Park realizes its commitment by making the creative process available to the public. Studios engages and inspires the San Luis Obispo County community and its visitors with a unique open studio environment. Studios features artists working in a variety of media, educational programs for children and adults, and quality exhibitions by regional, national and international artists.
We are honored to serve over 100,000 students and visitors every year through our Kids Art Smart and Community Arts Access programs. Contributions to support these efforts and advance our mission are tax-deductible. We work with corporations, foundations and individuals to identify investment opportunities that meet organizational and personal giving goals. Please contact us for more information.
Studios on the Park is the dream of Anne Laddon, a professional artist and 25 year resident of Paso Robles. As a young graphic designer living just outside of Washington, DC, she was given an opportunity that would change her life forever. Led by visionary Marian Van Landingham, she and other founding artists joined together to renovate an abandoned torpedo factory into working studio spaces for artists and in 1974, the Torpedo Factory Art Center opened to the public. Anne soon began printmaking and held a studio/gallery at the Torpedo Factory for ten years. Nurtured by the artists surrounding her and the public audience, she created hundreds of limited edition silkscreen prints, posters, and greeting cards. Her works featured bright color, bold design, and, occasionally, “pop” subjects such as cameras and typewriters. Today, over thirty years later, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to over 160 professional artists who work, exhibit, and sell their art.
Anne never forgot her experience at the Torpedo Factory and its profound impact on her development as an artist. Indeed, her passion for sharing the creative process with others and strong belief that “anyone can be an artist,” which resulted from her time at the Torpedo Factory, are what motivated her to pursue the Studios on the Park project.
Paso Robles and the entire San Luis Obispo County community are home to incredibly talented artists that have long lacked venues to show and sell, forcing them to send their artwork out of the area. But this reality has not only been a hardship for local artist, but also has left the community with limited exposure to the visual arts. One afternoon, in the early summer of 2007, Anne saw the answer to both of these needs in 1130 Pine Street. After many conversations with the owner, Steve Encell, she leased the building and Studios on the Park was born. Anne then gathered some close friends and advisors to form the founding Board of Directors, and together they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
With her boundless energy, Anne and her team worked doggedly to create an organization that would not only be home to the visual arts in the North County but that would provide one of the few open studio environments in the country and be the premier organization of its kind in California.
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The story of 1130 Pine Street is a story of Paso Robles and its automotive past. The façade of the existing building dates from the early 1930s, a time when Paso Robles served as the midway stopover for motorists traveling between Los Angeles to San Francisco. To meet the demands of these visitors and their cars, local entrepreneurs began to open auto related businesses downtown and before long the automotive industry had taken Paso Robles by storm. With its prime location and large size, 1130 Pine Street caught the eye of the Paul & Grace Reinke. They soon remodeled the building to include curbs and garage doors and opened the Reinke Hudson Packard Dealership. In 1938, after leasing from owner W. B. Bayless for several years, the Reinkes bought the building. Their dealership continued to be a cornerstone of Paso Robles commerce for the next 22 years.
In 1960, the building changed hands and became Pioneer Auto Parts, a partnership of Harold L “Mike” Wing and Norman W. Ellis. Their Auto Parts business had been located around the corner at 10th Street & Spring Street. Following the move to 1130 Pine Street, a shop was added as were several employees including Hap Lewis and Ray Robbins. During their 14 years of ownership, Pioneer Auto Parts became the source for all of Paso Roblans automotive needs, from wiper blades to wheel wells. Mike and Norm made sure that donuts, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were always on hand for their customers six days a week.
In 1974, Harold Wing sold to Steve Encell, the current owner of 1130 Pine Street. Under his management, Pioneer Auto Parts served as not only a parts store, but also a community social center for Roblans who would share news over a cup of coffee every morning. He also introduced a repair shop in the rear of the building and in 1990 became a CARQUEST Auto Parts franchise.
During the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake, 1130 Pine Street, along with many other buildings in the historic downtown area, was severely damaged. Mr. Encell was forced to close the auto parts business and began the extensive task of repairing the building. Over the next four years he considered various tenants but it was the philanthropic nature of the Studios on the Park project that sparked his interest and in December 2007 a lease was signed.
Since that time, Studios on the Park has worked closely with the City’s Community Development Department, Chamblin-Landes Construction Inc. and Larry Gabriel, architect to find a design for 1130 Pine Street that best meets the needs of Studios on the Park.
A temporary renovation of the existing 9,375 square foot building was completed in March 2009, permitting Studios on the Park to open its doors to the public without a large Capital Campaign.
Years ago, an extraordinary opportunity was presented to me that would forever change my life. In 1974, I was working as a graphic designer in Alexandria, Virginia and received an invitation to create a logo for an innovative art center being built in an abandoned 1920’s torpedo plant. Shortly thereafter, I had studio space in the Torpedo Factory Art Center and was spending my days as a printmaker. This opportunity to learn from other artists, to develop my craft, and to share my passion with the public transformed me. I continued this work with great success over the next ten years.
Then I met Paso Robles local, Jim Irving, on a trip down the Grand Canyon and my sights turned West. I packed up the studio and moved to his family ranch in Adelaide. Next came a gallery in Cambria, and the arrival of a daughter and a son ... I felt I had to make a decision! I chose family and focused on raising the children, but by the mid 90’s my art spirit returned in full force. I began taking painting classes and “painting the neighborhood” in our beautiful North County. I met many other wonderful Central Coast artists equally passionate about art. But there were few outlets for our work. I continued to dream of my time at the Torpedo Factory.
One day in June 2007, upon seeing the “For Lease” sign in the Pioneer Auto Parts building, I said to myself: “Enough is enough!” I set about turning my dream into reality. Through conversations with the building owner, Steve Encell, and close friends, I began to formulate a vision for Studios on the Park - an art center with working studios that would provide the community the opportunity to interact with working artists, take classes, and support local talent.
And what a journey it has been since November 2007 when I signed the lease! We had a blank canvas: an old building, damaged in the earthquake, waiting for a new opportunity and a new lease on life. A non profit was created with the help of art lovers and community leaders. Our board was formed with Liz & Newlin Hastings, Phyllis Frank, Will & Elaine Bateman, Mark & Elisabeth Sarrow, Barbara Partridge, Deborah Baldwin, my husband Jim Irving, and my multi-talented daughter Sasha. Various sets of plans for an 18,000 square foot brand new building were submitted, modified, resubmitted and finally approved in September 2008.
With the economic crisis looming, we took a deep breath, looked at the project anew. We decided that those plans would have to wait. But with so much enthusiasm and interest developing, we wanted to move forward. Our decision was to undertake a renovation of the existing building, calling it “Prelude: Studios on the Park.”
On Saturday, May 23, 2009 Studios on the Park took our first big step by hosting the inaugural Paso Robles Festival of the Arts and the associated “Follow the River, Paint the Dream” exhibition in collaboration with the City of Paso Robles.
Please support us as we strive to share and celebrate our passion for the visual arts!