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Inside Studio Union, the communal space founded by multimedia artist Susan Gregory to offer affordable rent for artists

Inside Studio Union, the communal space founded by multimedia artist Susan Gregory to offer affordable rent for artists
May 2024

The space is home to 19 artists and offers classes and workshops

Owner Susan Gregory wanted a space where she could work in both clay and paint.

After planned developments on Morrison Drive shuttered the doors of communal ceramics space Cone 10 Studios in 2019, multimedia artist and co-owner Susan Gregory stepped up to keep the creative flames going. With more than 20 years of experience in the local clay community, Gregory knew the value of professional, affordable spaces for makers. “When I was studying at Western Carolina University, I painted and made ceramics, and I loved having a place where I could work in both mediums,” she says. “I know the struggle it can be to find an arts space, so I thought, ‘How nice would it be to have a hive that allowed a cross-pollination in the Charleston arts community?’”

Gregory debuted Studio Union in the Neck neighborhood of Union Heights in 2020. Just two miles north of the Cone 10 location, the former warehouse had served as an auto shop and reupholstery servicer. The building’s facelift included painting the floors an inviting pink, removing a car or two, and constructing individual studios measuring 100 square feet each. An open area in the middle allows for artists to mingle and create larger scale works, such as a massive recent painting by muralist Riivo Kruuk.  

Several studio residents remain from the Cone 10 days, including Janette Wall of Carolina Creamware and ceramicist Nadia Stieglitz, while new faces contribute to what Gregory calls “a rich swath of experiences.” Some use their membership in professional capacities, while for others, it’s more of a creative outlet than career move. Though artists do come and go, Gregory acknowledges there isn’t much turnover among the tight-knit roster. “We have a great group of people,” she says. “And my work has been able to blossom.”  

Ceramicists, painters, and other creatives can join the waiting list to apply for membership at Studio Union, a community art studio in Union Heights.

Community engagement is a top priority for Gregory, who credits much of Studio Union’s existence and character to being an off-the-beaten-path business nestled among homes. “We have neighborhood kids who come over after school to hang out and grab a snack,” she says. “We’re just so thankful to be door-to-door with families that accept us as friends and neighbors.” 

To encourage that fellowship, Studio Union hosts events such as Yard Parties, where neighbors and artists gather for a cookout. Members and guests also lead public classes and workshops on ceramics, painting, and other disciplines in the studio’s communal space. Gregory notes that Studio Union is not a capitalist venture, however. “We collect enough money to pay our rent and bills with enough leftover for a rainy day,” she says. “The goal is to grow and be a healthy, secure financial institution for the survival of the space, the artists, and art.”

By the Numbers
■ 20: Years founder Susan Gregory has spent in the local clay community
■ 100: Square feet of individual studio spaces
■ $345: Cost per month to rent one unit
■ 15: The number of members working in clay at Studio Union
■ 4: The number of artists working in mixed-media painting in the studio