Studio Life – Pamela Staker – East Pilsen

Pamela Staker’s studio is located at the northeast edge of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood where artists have found affordable studio space in loft buildings. It is uniquely situated in a small building that has one apartment above it. Ascending a few steps inward from the exterior doorway, I entered into a comfortable open living area where she has a revolving exhibition of her most recent paintings and works on paper.

Living Area
Doubling as a gallery space when Pamela holds an open studio, the combined living and kitchen area has plenty of walls to display completed artwork. (copyright Pamela Staker)
Kitchen
The view of the living space from the kitchen shows a half wall that opens to the expansive window well that descends into the studio below. (copyright Pamela Staker)

There is a central broad staircase that descends into a cavernous space. It was hard to imagine a basement studio until arriving near the last few steps where I was totally surprised. Natural light floods both ends from high broad, glass block windows located in huge window wells that rise to the living quarters above. Unusually high ceilings allow the light to penetrate deep within the space.

Studio-stairwell
The open height of the staircase which leads to the studio below allows for hanging large works. (copyright Pamela Staker)
view of studio to right
From the vantage point of standing in the smaller area, all the storage and work area is in view. (copyright Pamela Staker)

The stairs divide the studio into two distinct areas. The one to the left is the smaller of the two and serves as storage for materials as well as contains print drawers and wood working tools. When it is tidied up, this area is used to show works on paper.

display
When this corner is not being used as a place where Pamela paints, it doubles as an additional exhibition space which is nicely lit from above by natural light. (Pamela Staker copyright)

To the right, storage space is plentiful. A washer and dryer find a spot next to the mechanicals that keep the studio and living quarters cool or warm depending on the seasons. Painting storage racks and supply shelves line the perimeter. Work tables are at the center but can be moved based on need. Some tables that have been pushed to the side are loaded with paints, paint mixing containers and brushes.

packing materials
Miscellaneous packing materials and tools are slid into each niche like puzzle pieces.
painting storage
Paintings fill this corner of the storage racks.
brushes
Brushes and paint mixing bowls that are set aside await the next painting.

Both ends of the studio have dedicated painting areas since the light is at its best there. Painting is not the only activity that takes place in Pamela’s studio. She builds the stretchers for her paintings and constructs the crates to ship her work. She assembles frames and modifies pre-made ones. From time to time, she also creates sculptures.

painting area
Displayed in the larger of the two areas in the studio, a completed painting is flooded with diffused light from above. (copyright Pamela Staker)

I now know why I ascended a few steps from street level to enter Pamela’s studio. The raised floor of her living quarters has allowed for a huge studio space below in height, width and length. How lucky she is.

The-Rally
Pamela Staker “The Rally” , 2016, oil on canvas 60” x 72” (copyright Pamela Staker)

Pamela Staker’s work is loaded with color so I can only think that despite having wonderful light under which to paint that the below street level somehow influences pigment choices. Her freely abstracted compositions are dynamic and have a physicality about them no mater the scale in which she works. Pamela’s subject matter is currently derived from nature and the influence of city living so that the elements of the composition which she chooses fuse the natural world and man-made structures together.

To contact Pamela and see more of her work: www.pamelastaker.com

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