New BSL Arts Center in the Works
- story and photos by Karen Fineran, additional photos, Ellis Anderson
Bay St. Louis's favorite mad potter is back at it again.
After a summer of soaking up some artistic inspiration from the muse of his Maine haven, and after a long dusty week of unique performances at Burning Man in the Nevada desert, area artist Steve Barney is back in the Bay, and his new project here might be his most ambitious yet.
Barney has purchased the iconic 7500 square foot complex of ironworks buildings at the corner of Washington Street and Central Avenue in Bay St. Louis and plans to transform it into a new Bay St. Louis community arts center.
Barney, who will serve as executive director, says that the center will be called the Bay St. Louis Center for Creative Arts, or “BSLCCA” for short.
his segment's right at the beginning
Barney's long term plan is that BSLCCA will offer beginner and advanced classes in metalworking, pottery, stained glass and other mediums, and that a full schedule of workshops will be offered to the public by artists from across the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.
Barney has gained national recognition for his efforts in the burgeoning movement to integrate Art into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) with respect to children's educational programs. As the Shoofly highlighted in an earlier edition, Barney is the founder of the STEAMpunk Pottery Project, has created the self-acclaimed “greatest pottery machine in the world,” and performs regularly at festivals and museums across the Gulf Coast.
In keeping with the STEAM theme, a wide variety of programs are planned to expose kids to new forms of art, including after-school programs, weekend workshops and summer art camp offerings.
BSLCCA will feature the Bay's most extensive metal-working studio, and will offer facilities, equipment and classes for metal cutting, fabrication, welding (including MIG, TIG and stick welding), forging, sandblasting and painting.
"We will teach classes in metalworking and operate a coop workshop for artists to work on their own projects.” Barney adds, “During the day we will operate a commercial welding shop to meet the local demand for fabrication and repairs.”
Ceramic arts will also be a major focus for BSLCCA. The clay studio will include eight pottery wheels, a glaze mixing lab, and other equipment for hand-building. The kiln room will have three state of the art computer controlled electric kilns, with future plans to include gas and raku kilns as well.
Barney explains, “The City of Bay St. Louis and neighbors in the area have been incredibly supportive of this project. This is a major effort in the revitalization of Washington Street."
In fact, the Arts of Hancock County, a leading arts advocacy organization with over 200 members, plans to have its offices at the BSLCCA.
Barney expects to open the center by early 2017. If you would like more information about BSLCCA, please contact Executive Director Steve Barney at 617-834-0715 or email email@example.com.