Monday, July 17, 2017

Art Teacher Travels: Lowe Mill, Huntsville, Alabama

Not too long ago, a sweet art teacher friend asked me if I'd ever been to Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama. Not only had I never been, but I'd never even heard of it! When I think of Huntsville, which is a couple hours south of the Nashville area where I live, I think of the NASA's Space Flight Center. Art isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. So I was super surprised one Saturday morning when Mitch and I pulled up to this giant old factory turn arts facility. 
Every Saturday, Lowe Mill hosts a small farmers market on the front lawn. There were just a handful of booths when we walked by and I didn't stop to check them out...I was too intrigued by the giant brick building which had a steady stream of folks going in and out. We stepped inside. 
The Mill has three floors. The first was filled with open concept shops like this weaving studio. There was a comic art shop, a quilting shop with some super fun fabrics, one filled with instruments crafted from cigar boxes, you name it. Each storefront was super welcoming with mini-make and takes happening. In this weaving shop, I was introduced to the Weave-It loom, a miniature loom that was created back in the 50's. I had inherited two of these looms from my I was thrilled to have an expert show me how to use it. 
 Also located on the first floor were a couple of art exhibits. I was loving these paintings by Bethanne Hill as apart of her show titled Home Ground. 
Each artist's studio was so unique and each artist so stinkin' friendly! I was encouraged to snap photos, ask questions and try my hand at creating. 
 Loved this artist's collection of bottles. 
From the first floor, we took the stairs (deciding to forgo the slightly frightening vintage elevator) which opened up to a vendor's craft market. Here, the artists were selling their inexpensive wares sidewalk style, right in front of their shops. There were artists of all ages selling such a variety of stuff that I was always intrigued. Not to mention, this place was hopping! I loved that so many folks were out celebrating the arts. 
Also, that monster door thing is giving me life. 
 As is this bright orange deer. 
 I have to say, the shop that excited me the most on the second floor was the one with the puppets. This place was like a puppet museum! I was fascinated with the variety of vintage and handmade puppets. 
 After traveling in Italy this summer, I'm really excited about the idea of puppets and having my students learn about the history of Pinocchio. But now I realize I'll have a lot of puppet ideas to share with them. The puppet possibilities are endless!
The owner of this shop was every bit of awesome and informative as her booth. I chatted with her at length. I loved that about the Lowe many opportunities to meet and hang out with working artists. 
 So I took exactly one million trillion photos in her booth. Sorry not sorry. 
 Can you blame me?!
 On the third floor, there were much bigger studio spaces. I learned that some of these spaces were open for rent. I saw a clay class happening in one rented space. I need to get on their email list to stay up on the classes offered. 
 There were also places where folks could drop in and create. Lots of classes being offered like ones for painting, stained glass, you name it. 
The third floor was also home to a fantastic popsicle place and a coffee house. 
 This view of the third floor should give you a better idea of the space. Again, very open air and open concept. What I love about that is that it seemed to provide a chance for artists to have a community...and not feel isolated as they normally might. 
 The variety of artwork being created was so inspiring. 
 LOVE these pieces!
 Mitch and I did take a break half way through our visit to grab some pizza. Lowe Mill is so big, we needed to step away for a bit and come back to explore some more. 
Here is what I found the most amazing about this place: the amount of folks who were there. Imagine what the halls of a mall look like on most weekends with folks mindlessly walking up and down. Now imagine those same crowds here, at the Lowe Mill...but this time, being intrigued and engaged all while creating and admiring art. It was amazing! I thought: why don't all towns have something like this?
 You know what? Maybe they do. And I've failed to find them. New mission! I know both Nashville and Franklin (where I teach) have thriving art communities. I need to get more involved. Look what I'm missing out on.
 But back to Lowe Mill. After our pizza lunch, we finished exploring this magical place. 
If you find yourself near Huntsville, Alabama, I recommend a trip to Lowe Mill. It's a place I'd definitely like to visit again. 
What magical maker spaces are near where you live? I'd love some road trippin' recommendations. 
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  1. I lived in Madison, AL for a number of years but I never got the chance to go to Lowe Mill sad to say. Wish I had.

    1. Well, next time you in that part of the world...drop by!

  2. Squee! You came to one of my favorite places! Lowe Mill is amazing.

  3. I drove down from the top of Indiana for a workshop with Stacy at Lowe Mill the Saturday you visited. For me I felt like this was a little bit of Heave on Earth. Absolutely loved the community atmosphere and the desire people have to bring artists together into one place...amazing! I really hope we can have something similar to this where I live in the near future.

    1. Yes, it was amazing!! I need to get on their email list to stay up to date with their class offerings!

  4. Cassie - I just put in Facebook about a little town north of Louisville, KY called New Albany, IN. Cute town with eclectic spots! Going back today!

    1. Yes!! I believe I've been there...near where I went to school, I think. I'll have to pop by on my next voyage home. Thank you, Lisa!


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