The Bakery and Atlanta DIY Art Spaces: A Conversation with Willow Goldstein

 The Bakery, a creative arts complex in Oakland City, sits at  825 Warner Street in southwest  Atlanta.

The Bakery, a creative arts complex in Oakland City, sits at 825 Warner Street in southwest Atlanta.

On Sunday, October 8, the folks behind the Bakery, a budding arts complex in southwest Atlanta, rolled open its garage doors to celebrate the creative space’s first birthday. For the Bakery’s opening party, HBIC Willow Goldstein and her team of fellow artists organized a lineup of local musicians along with a BYO art show, an artist residency open house and, fittingly, a bake sale.

I spoke with Goldstein about her experience in DIY arts communities in Boston and Brooklyn and her vision for SWATL’s new arts-focused flex space. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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How do you describe The Bakery to folks who haven't been before?

The running joke to the question of "What is the Bakery?" is "The Bakery is everything."

The Bakery is a concept 30+ years in the making and, ultimately, it is an experiment in a collective creative lifestyle. We desire that it proves to be a sustainable model for the creative community, a model of how social equity, environmental awareness, and tangible action can be realized within the arts community. In concrete terms, The Bakery will be a community hub by day and an event space by night.

  Xenia Simos, Willow Goldstein, Olive Hagemeier, and Onyx Simpson pose for a photo together at The Bakery's birthday party. Image by Matt Kelly.

Xenia Simos, Willow Goldstein, Olive Hagemeier, and Onyx Simpson pose for a photo together at The Bakery's birthday party. Image by Matt Kelly.

What communities do you hope to serve through the space?

We intend to serve the needs of our local community directly while also fostering a dynamic international creative exchange. Atlanta is an artistically fragmented city and we hope to offer a space for cross-pollination and collaboration. To state specific communities would be counter to our ethos. Basically, we have a hard line: no nazis, no racists, no bigots, and no jerks.

The Bakery will provide a space where different perspectives can be represented and sustainable action can be implemented toward creating an equitable future for the arts in Atlanta.

 

What's your background in the arts and how do you hope that opening the bakery will help you grow as an artist?

I earned a BA in Art from a university that did not specialize in the arts which allowed me a diverse and self-directed education. It was in Boston that I dabbled in the academic arts, working for a freelance photographer who specialized in academia and politics.

I moved to Brooklyn in 2012 looking for a more engaging future which I found through doing DIY arts and environmental organizing. I worked hard and played hard in NYC, doing countless internships and odd jobs alongside restaurant work while creating community projects, running a blog, and organizing a massive yearly festival. Through all of this, I have maintained a light creative practice, both in writing and visual work. I joke that I'm not a "good artist" and by that I speak nothing of talent but rather of focus, discipline, and dedication. I've sustained myself through my adult life by working in the service industry but it's hard to find the right motivation after a 12-hour shift fueled by Four Roses. My hope is that The Bakery will not only be a platform where people’s dreams can be realized but where I can also be inspired and have the time and space necessary to devote more of myself to making work.

  Mason Bovender, the designer and builder behind a creative company called Ninepound, stands at the entrance of his workshop space at The Bakery.

Mason Bovender, the designer and builder behind a creative company called Ninepound, stands at the entrance of his workshop space at The Bakery.

  Artist YunJung Alice's work brightens up the warehouse walls outside The Bakery, embodying Willow Goldstein's vision of community collaboration within the creative arts complex.

Artist YunJung Alice's work brightens up the warehouse walls outside The Bakery, embodying Willow Goldstein's vision of community collaboration within the creative arts complex.

  More artwork on display at The Bakery.

More artwork on display at The Bakery.

What organizations (in Georgia or elsewhere) have influenced your vision for the Bakery?

The Goat Farm is the clearest model in Atlanta for the kind of space I desire The Bakery to be: a social enterprise business that is able to be self-sustaining and ultimately able to funnel revenue into a subsidized workspace, artist residencies, and community programming. Spaces such as Pioneer Works, Knockdown Center, Secret Project Robot and House of Yes are organizations that I admire. However, I come from a more grassroots, DIY background and that is where I have gained much of my experience. I worked with Arts in Bushwick for four years, getting my feet wet in many areas. Upon returning to Atlanta, I moved into a studio in the basement of Mammal Gallery and love the atmosphere and programming they create. However, Eyedrum is my creative home in Atlanta and The Bakery wouldn’t be possible without the invaluable experience and connections I’ve gained there over this past year.

 

What's your vision for the space's growth over the next year?

We are moving infinitely faster than I could have ever imagined. We moved into the space mid-July and began working on it immediately by organizing volunteer work days. Word of mouth and Craigslist advertising filled the studio spaces at the same time as people’s passions began to shape future programming. Our opening event started as an internal deadline and turned into an amazing collaborative multi-genre showcase. As of two weeks ago, I was telling people we wouldn’t be open (on a daily basis) until the spring, but now we are aiming to be open by November. In the big picture vision, a few of next years plans include remediating the earth here, starting gardens, and building an active artist residency program.

 

Follow The Bakery’s community programs and developments here:
www.thebakeryatlanta.com
https://www.facebook.com/thebakeryatlanta/
https://www.instagram.com/thebakeryatlanta/

For more on Rachel Eubanks, visit her website: http://www.rachel-eubanks.com/