William Shakespeare - in the voice of Juliet Capulet - famously asked, "What's in a name?" But for Burlington artist Sage Tucker-Ketcham, the question is, "What's in a number?" The answer: a lot.
This week, her Studio STK is vacating 64 North Street and settling in at 12, near the intersection with North Avenue. The "green" office building owned by A.J. Rossman houses his second-floor business, Draker Solar Design, and a handful of other tenants. McCaffrey's service station and Waggy's Deli are right next door, Opportunities Credit Union is across the street, and Burlington College is a stone's throw away. Tucker-Ketcham believes this proximity will not just increase traffic to her gallery and arts education center but also make its all-female staff feel more secure. "Safety is an issue," she acknowledges. "We had some problems with crime in the space . . . North Street is not revitalizing as quickly as we'd hoped."
A far bigger concern for Studio STK, however, has been financial. The overhead at 64 North proved too onerous for the 2-year-old enterprise, and paying the bills depended on renting some of the studio space to other artists. The staff is composed of dedicated volunteers - "We get interns and they don't leave!" Tucker-Ketcham marvels. Funding sources have not always lived up to her vision for arts education in the Old North End. "We have this huge refugee population here, banging on my windows, saying, 'We want to paint!' every day," she says. "We want to do stuff with them, but someone has to foot the bills."
At 28, Tucker-Ketcham is already an experienced painter and art educator - she has taught for the YMCA and Burlington City Arts in addition to holding classes and instructing individuals at the studio - and a fearless entrepreneur. Petite and vivacious, she exudes enthusiasm despite the challenges of running a small business. That positive energy might be one reason Reid Crosby, 34, wants to support the Studio STK mission. A painter and photographer with a full-time job at IBM, the Colchester resident "has stepped up to help," Tucker-Ketcham says.
Specifically, Crosby is covering six months of rent at 12 North Street and is helping Tucker-Ketcham with her business plan - he holds both an art degree from St. Michael's College and a math degree from the University of Maryland. "We're calling him our CFO," Tucker-Ketcham says with a grin, noting that the arrangement is "all handshake-based" for now, but will soon become an official business partnership. First, there's a lot of stuff to move down the street, walls to paint and artwork to hang.
The new digs are "gorgeous," declares Crosby. The high ceiling and a lobby-style entrance certainly make a good first impression. Studio STK's space includes a small, windowed room facing the street, a long hallway, a mini-kitchen and large back room that will be used for shows, classes and events. "I think this will bring a nice life to the building," Crosby adds. "It's a very good investment in the community."
Studio STK will be open to visitors beginning January 15, but the grand opening will coincide with a reception for the digital and electronic artwork of Vermonter Shamms Mortier on January 26, 6-9 p.m. Visit http://www.studiostk.com for more info.