Letter from the Founder

Hello Friends of Studios on the Park!

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!

Anne Laddon