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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE » VERMONT » Inside The Box
Sunset Over The Box
Inside The Box

The Box Art Studio, Burlington, Vermont

By Alex Dostie | May 11, 2012

Creative endeavors are commonplace at the corner of Pine Street and Marble Avenue in the post-industrial South End of Vermont’s Queen City.

The Box

For nearly ten years many of Burlington’s preeminent fine artists have practiced their trades inside the Box Art Studio, so many, that Burlington’s weekly arts and culture newspaper, Seven Days, has heralded the studio as “legendary.”

Burlington’s South End is the oldest part of the city (chartered in 1763) and was settled along the original path of Route 7, which stretches between Rutland and Canada.   The construction of the Pine Street Barge Canal in the early nineteenth century made it the center of the city’s industrial revolution. By the early 1980s, the southern corridor of Burlington was nearly vacant and suffering from post-industrial decay.   The large, open and affordable spaces left behind became a Mecca to fine artists searching for studios.

Burlington’s creative elite began migrating to the empty factories and warehouses of Pine Street and Flynn Avenue during the 1980s and early 1990s.   The South End Arts and Business Association was established in 1986 and began promoting the annual South End Art Hop festival, which grew quickly in popularity. By 2010, it had become one of the largest arts festivals in New England attracting more than 30,000 people annually and featuring more than 500 artists.

The Box Art Studio resides at the epicenter of the festival, taking up half of the second floor and the entire third floor of 7 Marble Avenue.   It’s from the latter that the Box received its moniker as it was a later addition to the building and resembles a red box sitting on top of the roof.   The original brick structure was constructed in 1920 and was home to the Welch Bros. Maple Co. until 1926 when the Vermont Division of Penick and Ford Ltd., producers of maple sugar and syrup, acquired the space and occupied it until 1967.

The art studio was established in 2003 by Anastasia Aline and Leslie C. Baker, who leased the space and began subletting to artists and musicians. Leasing and management of the space has since changed hands but the studio remains and has become a hot spot of productivity.

Inside The Box

Iconic Burlington bands including Swale, The Jazz Guys, Rough Francis, James Kochalka Superstar, Colin Clary and the Magogs, and Led Loco have rehearsed and recorded in the Box.   The studio has also become associated with local theatre troupes such as the Green Candle Theatre Company and the Spielpalast Cabaret.   One of Burlington’s most venerable arts organizations, Art’s Alive Vermont, is run by Alex Dostie who is also the current leaseholder and manager of the studio.

Today, the first level of the Box is occupied by five artists: Alex Dostie (painting, mixed media, sculpture, set design and construction), Kristen L’Esperance (painting, interior architecture), Michael Heeney (photography), Brooke Monte (painting, photography, sculpture), and Isaac Wasuck (painting, mixed media, photography).   The second level of the Box is split into an artist’s space and a recording studio.   Aimee Rice (mixed media) and Ben Niznik (mixed media) share the artist’s space, while Frank Zee, Maarten Van Der Pol, and Steven Hazen Williams occupy the sound recording studio.

Inside, the 5 x 6½ foot industrial windows facing south and west keep the studio washed in natural light until sunset. Artists and guests are treated to a vision as the sun sets each night over Lake Champlain and the Pine Street Barge Canal.

The Box Art Studio is a private studio. Its members rent the space and utilize it to further their professional careers.   The studio is open to the public during the South End Art Hop, the Holiday Hop, and a few other open studio weekends annually.   The Box is also open by appointment.   Inquiries about viewings should be emailed to Alex Dostie at bigbadbox2@yahoo.com.

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