Can you take desire to the next level – and are you willing to leap?
That’s the question from retailer, artist and visionary, Ron Chane, who is today unveiling details for a new collaborative, creative space in the heart of Fondren.
The Wonder Labâ„¢ is an 1,800 square foot incubated environment, built around the premise of synergistic balance, a selective curation of seven creators, in “pods” in the basement of Fondren Corner. Short term leases (three, six or nine months for most) and low rents (“in the $400’s”) for 175 square foot spaces, and 24 hour access will give artists of different mediums the chance to take that next step.
“The whole thing is about this four letter word called ‘leap,’” Chane says of the experimental project. “When you don’t know much about something, it’s always easy to dream. If you feel like what you’re doing in life wasn’t that creative element you had all those dreamy passions about. It’s like, ‘I’m taking a pay cut, going to wait tables at night and create this future, this so-called ‘unrealistic dream.’ And there are six others like me marinating in the pods. Maybe this is your opportunity to take the leap and come into a setting where you perfect your craft.”
The idea behind The Wonder Lab ideally brings a mix of creators to the space. Chane envisions a jewelery maker, a photographer, a graphic artist, a canvas artist and a fashion designer, and so on, to pool their resources and “help the next one.”
Artists selected will need something stronger than “desire” to be considered. Chane says, while it’s not impossible to get in, a focused and articulate plan for your future and the ability to integrate into community will set you on the right foot. “You can’t get in just because you desired to be in it,” he reiterates. “You have to fill out an application that shows you have some community interest, that you have a goal to integrate creatively in community and make an economic impact. It’s not just for the hobbyist, but someone who wants to make a career out of something creative.”
Working with Visit Mississippi’s “Mississippi Creative Economy,” Chane is hoping to forge relationships with similar concepts around the state and entice artists from the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta to consider residencies in The Wonder Lab, teaching, inspiring and encouraging. With the out-of-state pull strong for Mississippi’s creatives, Chane hopes the camaraderie will encourage some to forge a path here at home. “There’s always ‘the great flight.’ I ran off to New York City, looking for greener pastures. But it’s not always where you go, but what you’ve got around you. Some people can be productive as an island, but as an artist of a few mediums myself, I would thrive better collaboratively.”
Though Chane has just signed a five year lease on the space, taking a huge risk on his part, artists in the The Wonder Lab won’t be there but a fraction of time. “Rotation, balance, change, movement,” he explains. “As one artist moves out, it’s inspiration for the ones still there and the ones on the waiting list to get in. At some point, these are the future leaseholders in the area who will have their own galleries, who will teach… a seed that the community tangibly sees grow.”
When Chane was younger, he says he had few options to develop and publicly showcase his tee shirts and wants to change that for another generation. His monthly Fondren’s First Thursday will be a natural stage to bring forth gallery shows in The Wonder Lab and to bring those artists onto the streets above.
His words of encouragement to future “lab rats” in the creative maze? “You’re good enough, and there can be demand for your work, but you’ve got to work for it. There’s no stronger option for the dollar with limited liability. This is that ability for someone who might not take the leap otherwise. The Wonder Lab will change futures and inspire others. It’s something good for Mississippi.
To apply for a space in The Wonder Lab, opening September 1, pick up an application at Studio Chane – next to Walker’s – (thewonderlab.city is coming soon!)
Studio Chane Taking Former Mulberry Dreams Space
With today’s announcement of The Wonder Lab, Chane will move his screen printing shop, Studio Chane, back to street level for the first time since operating from what is now Butterfly Yoga. “It’s our seventh and final move ever, he laughs as a marathon renovation effort begins.
While the 1,500 square foot space is a step down in raw footage, Chane says he’ll be “smart sizing,” using the height of the State Street property to his advantage. That includes a hidden, lofted office he has dubbed “The Cloud,” and fold up work benches and display boards.
Chane calls the move a wise one for his 27 year-old business, enjoying the last six years in the basement of Fondren Corner, but looking forward to street front retail. “This is the last option in the immediate historic district, with more visibility and value. It’s common sense but it hasn’t been available until now. This move puts us more in the epicenter of it all.”
Studio Chane will close on Thursday, July 23, to reopen Tuesday July 28 in the new space at 3026 North State Street.