- Luke Awtry
- Artist Monica Andrews
In the weeks leading up to the South End Art Hop, stained glass artist Terry Zigmund and her studio mates were sprucing up the E-1 Studio Collective on Burlington's Pine Street. Using cardboard stencils in shapes evoking cutouts by Henri Matisse, Zigmund planned to paint designs on the driveway and surrounding alleys. The colorful marks would blaze a trail directing passersby to the arts enclave behind Speeder & Earl's Coffee.
"You can follow these wacky shapes and see where it takes you," Zigmund said. For her, the trail leads to a community she values.
Creating art can be a solitary endeavor, but E-1 brings artists together: Ten of them share space in the two-story brick building. Jasper and Lilah, Zigmund's dogs, hang out there, too. It's not a new phenomenon for artists to divvy up studio space; in fact, it's one way to sustain art making over time. According to the artists who work at E-1, the arrangement has practical, social and even creative benefits.
With rental space in short supply in Burlington, sharing a studio makes sense. Splitting the rent among several people keeps individual costs down. And being around other artists offers opportunities to talk shop, exchange ideas and sometimes collaborate.
- Luke Awtry
- Terry Zigmund
Each artist at E-1 has their own space in an open floor plan that Zigmund calls "cool and funky." One studio is tucked under a staircase. Another is in a loft with a skylight. Abstract paintings, stained glass pieces and graphite portraits share wall space. A small gallery near the front door is an exhibit space for the artists, who offer their work for sale. Customers leave cash in a jar or pay by Venmo.
"I really like the environment," said painter Sarah Rosedahl, 60, who works in a loft space. "As artists, we work by ourselves, alone, so much." She likes having both her own space and "a little bit of social chitchat and water-cooler kind of things."
She added, "Everybody's respectful of everybody else and their space and time and what they're doing."
Zigmund, 54, has made glass art for 22 years at E-1, where she runs Burlington Community Glass Studio. Pieces of colored glass, arrayed in different designs, often frame an image of a tree or a heart in her work. As the principal tenant at E-1, she holds the lease with Unsworth Properties, the company that owns 416 Pine Street.
Zigmund sublets studio space to the nine other artists, who pay her between $135 and $275 a month, she said. In her two decades at E-1, Zigmund has shared the building with a changing roster of artists. She's reconfigured the space and made improvements, with the OK from the landlord, to accommodate evolving needs. Zigmund works full time at E-1; other artists come and go, dictated by schedules and day jobs. The studio space is available for working — but not for living, she stressed — day and night. Typically, a few artists work on-site at a time.
"My vision for the space was to be open so we could all kind of commingle," Zigmund said. "I've had people here who wanted a private place, but I'm not the spot for those people."
When a subtenant leaves and a space at E-1 opens up, it's sometimes rented by word of mouth before Zigmund gets a chance to post it online. A recent studio listed on Craigslist was rented out in less than 24 hours, she said.
"I could charge more, but I don't want to do that," Zigmund said. "Why should I? I just want to have a space where I can work, and I want to be surrounded by people who are like-minded. And I want to be accessible so they can have the same opportunity I have."
James Unsworth, who will turn 36 this week, is the fourth generation of his family to own buildings on Pine Street between Howard Street and Marble Avenue, as well as property on Howard Street. As general manager of the company, Unsworth said, he's pleased to carry on his family's business tradition of renting to artists and makers.
- Luke Awtry
- Artist Rodney Lowe in the E-1 Studio Collective
More than 60 percent of the tenants in the complex are such artists and makers, according to Unsworth, including those at AO Glass and Green Door Studio. Unsworth also said he's glad he doesn't have the option to convert the buildings to housing — the area is not zoned for residential use.
"The values are just so high for housing," he said. "I don't want that carrot in front of me." Furthermore, Unsworth added, "We care a lot about artists in the South End."
"The deal is that we offer below-market rents for spaces like Terry's in exchange for people not asking us" for upgrades or improvements, Unsworth continued. "That's how we're able to support the arts community in the South End: by renting to people who aren't nagging us to do a lot of things."
That means Zigmund wears long underwear and a hat to work in the uninsulated building in the winter. But she can also rebuild the staircase, take down a wall and paint designs on the floor.
"Honestly, they let us do what we want," she said of Unsworth Properties. "They don't care if we paint the floors. They don't care if we paint the walls. I have always found them to be fair and reasonable."
Unsworth, whose own office is on Howard Street, enjoys the proximity to the painters, sculptors, musicians and craftspeople who fill the adjacent buildings.
"One of my favorite things is going to grab a cup of coffee at Speeder's," he said. "It's hard not to have three conversations with folks about what they're doing and how they're preparing for Art Hop."
Zigmund also appreciates the easy access to fellow makers. "I love working here because I'm around a lot of other artists," she said. "If I need a piece of wood, I can go right over to Sterling [Hardwoods]. If I need a hole drilled in a piece of glass, I can go to AO [Glass]." She might return the favor with a six-pack, she said.
Artist Monica Andrews remembers visiting E-1 at Art Hop in 2019, a couple of months after she moved to Burlington. She thought to herself, "Wouldn't it be cool to have a studio down there?"
- Luke Awtry
- Artist Camielle Josephine, aka Sage Route
That idea became a reality in spring 2021, when a space opened up. She spotted the listing online and immediately emailed Zigmund.
Andrews, 25, is assistant director of education at Shelburne Museum. She makes art at E-1, including pet portraits and logos, on her days off and in the evenings.
"I love having a dedicated space to come and spread out," she said. "It's been such a joy to have peers and friends working there. I feel like I've grown a lot as an artist, and it's felt really empowering to be able to try new things."
Zigmund's dogs will stay home during Art Hop, but other E-1 regulars will be in their studios, creating art and chatting with each other and the visiting public. The pavement paintings will lead people to the building, and Rosedahl's artwork on the front will let them know they've arrived.
That's right: Unsworth is even the kind of landlord who lets his tenants paint orange and blue chickens on the exterior — and a purple rabbit holding a sign that says "Choose Love."