Painter, educator and gallerist Ryan Lauterio is no stranger to juggling tasks.
A full-time art instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Lauterio is the founder and director of the nonprofit Shockoe Artspace, and co-host, with Garreth Blackwell, of Shockoe Artspeak. Yet he still finds time to work in his 876-square-foot studio, a converted garage in his backyard that he purchased in 2017.
Style Weekly: Why did you choose this location?
Ryan Lauterio: To use my time efficiently. It's separate enough from my living space to give me a distinct space to work in without being inhibited by my home life but close enough that I don't have to get in the car and travel. We wanted that in order to have a studio space that could be open to our neighborhood and maybe other people could exhibit work in here.
What kind of studio did you have before?
My studio before was in the basement of my previous home. It was a great little space —probably 10-by-15-feet — and had a sink. It was very makeshift. I didn't feel comfortable bringing people into the studio. …When we looked to buy a home … I want[ed] a studio. I want my kids to see me in a studio and feel like that's possible for them in the future. Visibility was very big. And clarification: This is a studio space.
What's the most important thing in your studio?
Clean walls and a large interior space. Before I moved here, I was painting outside and my paint would dry. … Or the humidity would mess it up. You'd get into a rhythm and the lights would go out — I couldn't see. I can keep my room temperate and my paints don't go bad. Second to that is my book collection. I need the accompaniment of other people's thoughts.
What's unique about it?
The size. I'm so used to cubby holes. It took me four or five months to get used to being in the space because it's bigger than anything I ever sat in. It zapped me. I couldn't think in there. It took me time to actually be in the space and work. It was intimidating. ... This space is more open — I've got a garage door that I can open and light can come in. It's well-lit, there's a million lights in here. … It's a cumulative thing.
What commitment does a studio require?
Economically … it's got to pay for itself. I don't make a lot of money, so we have to think wisely about how we steward the resources and materials. … A physical space means I have to keep a job. Fortunately, I love teaching so it's not a compromise for me. It's integrated and mutually enhancing facts that enable and promote [each other]. Doing [Shockoe] Artspace, being a painter of sorts and teaching full time, I just don't see them at odds.
I don't even know if I'd want it another way.
For information, see ryanlauterio.com.