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Article posted: 6/21/2013 6:09 PM

Elgin Artspace Lofts schedules grand opening

Sister Jeanne Stickling shows off her favorite pottery piece. Stickling is a resident artist at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin, which will hold a grand opening and an open house Thursday.

Sister Jeanne Stickling shows off her favorite pottery piece. Stickling is a resident artist at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin, which will hold a grand opening and an open house Thursday.

 

Emmalee Luckas | Staff Photographer

Sister Diane Weifenbach shows off one of her calligraphy pieces in her workspace at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin.

Sister Diane Weifenbach shows off one of her calligraphy pieces in her workspace at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin.

 

Emmalee Luckas | Staff Photographer

Sister Jeanne Stickling, a resident artist at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin, is considering renting studio space in the building as well.

Sister Jeanne Stickling, a resident artist at Elgin Artspace Lofts in downtown Elgin, is considering renting studio space in the building as well.

 

Emmalee Luckas | Staff Photographer

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Among the residents of Elgin Artspace Lofts are two Adrian Dominican nuns who've been friends for more than 50 years.

Sister Jeanne Stickling, 76, and Sister Diane Weifenbach, 77, said they're looking forward to Thursday's official grand opening of Artspace, which they've called home since last fall, when each moved into one of the building's 55 affordable housing units.

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"It's a really nice community of artists, and it's wonderful to visit with Sister Diane," Stickling said.

For the grand opening, Stickling plans to exhibit some of her pottery in Artspace's gallery, while Weifenbach plans to let visitors into her apartment and showcase her mixed-media art during the open house.

"I use anything that I can find," said Weifenbach, pointing to a compass and miniature glasses. She also has about 1,000 rubber stamps, all neatly organized in plastic bins in her work space.

All but one of the units at 51 S. Spring St. are occupied, mostly by artists and their families, said Melodie Bahan, vice president of communications for Artspace. Three residents are non-artists, but have "strong connections to the art community," she added.

"We schedule the celebration generally six months after the residents have moved in. As part of grand opening we have open studios, so it gives the residents time to get settled and get their space the way they want it," she said. Minneapolis-based Artspace has properties in more than 30 locations throughout the country.

The $15.2 million project in Elgin was funded by about $11 million in low-income housing tax credits, plus philanthropic donations, she said. The city of Elgin contributed about $1 million and donated land.

Sticking was among the first residents who moved in October, while Weifenbach followed the next month.

The building's first floor includes a nearly 2,250-commercial that Artspace hopes will be occupied by gallery or creative business, Bahan said. There are also smaller spaces for lease; Stickling said she's interested in renting one to create more pottery.

The grand opening is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27. Speakers will include Sen. Mike Noland, state Rep. Keith Farnham, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain, former Elgin Mayor Ed Shock, and others.

There will be performances by local artists, food and refreshments. The open house is 6:30 to 8 p.m.

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