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Thriving in Spring:

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‘Equinox’ Art Show Opening
Sat., 3/17 • 6-10 p.m.
Thrive Studios
6622 Gordon Road, Unit N

4’ x 4’ mixed media painting on a wood panel, entitled “Tree Lady” by Gaeten Lowrie. Courtesy photo

“We don’t want to just cater to the rich people,” says Gaeten Lowrie, co-owner of Thrive Studios, as he explains that art should be readily available to anyone who wants to enjoy it. He and fellow artist Scott Ehrhart opened up the studio in early 2009, bringing a San Francisco or Brooklyn-esque vibe to the Wilmington art scene.

The studio consists of various booths, which are rented out to interested artists. Currently, there are five other creative minds working alongside of the owners. One of whom, Zak Duff, has been a part of Thrive since its first year of existence.

The seven of them work as a team, trying to promote the arts and better their own works. They openly welcome feedback from each other as they are putting together new pieces. Lowrie says he’ll take a look at what someone else is working on and think to himself, “Hey, that’s some cool shit—I need to work harder and step up my game.”

Lowrie and Ehrhart encourage expression with very little boundaries, illustrated by the murals all over the walls. Heck, even the bathroom walls and ceiling are covered in art. Lowrie figures, “If we give a set space to paint, then we [won’t] have people tagging the toilet or writing on the tiles.”

While the artists are allowed to create whatever they please on their own time, they do set aside times on Sundays for their “Church Meetings,” where the owners and renting artists collaborate and come up with ideas for upcoming shows. Thrive puts on about three shows a year, and each one has a certain theme that the artists agree upon. A recent show at Projekte Gallery required that every piece be done in black-and-white. Another show, “Miniatures,” featured pieces under 1’x1’x1’ and with a price tag below $50.

Compared to their newest show, “Equinox,” the previous two were a little more conceptual, as Lowrie puts it. This one, which opens on Saturday, March 17th, left a bit more to the imagination of the participating artists. The spring equinox, signifying the first official day of spring (yes, believe it or not, Wilmington: it is still technically winter), takes place on March 20th, in the middle of their show dates.
The guidelines for pieces in this show were a bit more lenient. Any medium or form of art could be used, provided each piece incorporates some aspect relating to spring: flora and fauna, new growth, bright colors, etc. Each artist has a completely unique style, so there will still be a huge variety in the types of pieces on display. “We only have a few in-house exhibitions per year at Thrive Studios,” says Lowrie, “so we make sure that each of them count.”

Thrive Studio’s goal is to make art readily available to everyone—because of this, they take advantage of recycled materials and keep their price tags relatively low. For the purpose of “Equinox,” they took this idea to the extreme with an innovative new strategy. Lowrie and many other artists at Thrive utilize a lot of spray paint in their work, and the empty spray paint cans have accumulated in a giant box in the studio.

Rather than dumping them all in a landfill, the artists have turned each one into a unique piece of artwork. They call this “The Streets are Littered with Art,” which has its own Facebook page: Not only does each can look awesome, they have used these as an advertising tool for their show. Their website is written on every can, as well as “Equinox,” and the dates of the show. The cans are then dropped off at various places around town, generating mixed reactions. “Some people are like, ‘free art, YEAH!’’ says Lowrie, but he realizes that others view the project as littering and just ignore the cans or throw them away. However, that was a risk they were willing to take.
The co-owners and resident artists are all included in this month’s show: Lowrie, Ehrhart, Duff, Zachariah Weaver, Mike Watters, Rob Fogle and Rob Hassler. Additionally, nine others—some of whom are past renters, some are just respected artists—will be showing off their artwork in “Equinox”: Miranda Duncan, Lance & Alison Strickland, Drew Swinson, Casey Dupree, Annie Bennett, Trek Matthews, Bryan Stacy, and Jason Jones.
The opening reception for “Equinox” is on Saturday, March 17th from 6 to 10 p.m. Other viewing dates are March 18th from 1 to 7 p.m., March 24th from 6 to 10 p.m., and March 25th from 1 to 7 p.m. The studio will also be open to the public every Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. from April 1st through the 22nd. More information can be found at or on their Facebook fan-page, titled “Thrive Studios.”

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