Where The Arts Go Home To Play

Affordable lofts offer creative communities for local artists of all stripes
By Amanda Erickson (View full story online on Washington Post)

It’s an eclectic set of wares for sale at 3311 Rhode Island Ave. in Mount Rainier, Md.
Vendors offer up sneakers bedazzled in pink and gold jewels, Mondrian-patterned quilts and coats printed with lush African designs. Folk-art portraits dot the walls. Shoppers browse in tune with a cappella spirituals performed live by a choir near the front door.
It’s just another day in the life of the Mount Rainier Artist Lofts (3311 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier, Md.; 301-927-3586), which offers 44 live/work spaces for artists, performers and even hairdressers in Prince George’s County. It is just one of a handful of apartment complexes that caters to the city’s creative class.
Lucky residents of Mount Rainier Artist Lofts pay well below market rate for their apartments. In exchange, artists regularly open their studios to the public and host social events. Many also teach art classes at local schools.
The chance to interact with other artists is what first attracted Joanna Lawrence, 65, to the Artist Lofts; she’s lived there for eight years. “I really like the idea of being around other types of artists,” says the landscape and ink artist.

 

The chance to interact with other artists is what first attracted Joanna Lawrence, 65, to the Artist Lofts; she’s lived there for eight years. “I really like the idea of being around other types of artists,” says the landscape and ink artist. “At the same time, it means living with singers performing at 2:30 in the morning or making noise at all hours of the night.”