The hive mind
When artist and entrepreneur Bridget Lewis was laid off from her Bay Area job in 2012, it freed her up for the real opportunity to finally make good on a dream. A business plan and short move to Sacramento later, the Delta Workshop opened it doors in August. The new and inviting sunlit space just south of Broadway is nestled alongside like-minded hives, the Sol Collective art and music space, and the Capsity co-working community. The Delta Workshop currently splits duty as a gallery, shop, zine outlet and learning center. Lewis has plans for creative, business-minded artists and makers alike, with a roster of scheduled shows, workshops on photography, letterpress and, for those who prefer patronage over actually painting, the chance to shop for knickknacks. Lewis chatted with SN&R about connecting artists, problem solving and why Sacramento makes for an ideal creative city.
What’s your background?
I come from a studio-art background. My undergrad [studies focused on] ceramics, and [in] grad school, [I studied] sculpture. Then, [I] got a day job for many years and tried to just make stuff on the side and see as much art at galleries and museums as I could while I wasn't working, but it just wasn't enough for me. It wasn't fulfilling. I started to think about the job that I would make for myself if I could do anything. [Then, my] company laid me off, so I was like, “OK, I have this idea, and now I can do it.”
It's so great to be back in the art world and talking to artists a lot and being able to help them, but also using all the skills that I thought were totally unrelated while I was working, and it turns out they're not that unrelated, after all. … Those problem-solving skills I have, or being organized and doing paperwork? All right, I can use that.
What’s your broader vision for the workshop?
Right now, the physical space is the right layout, and [it has] the right amount of physical objects and gallery space, but I really want the general business to be more of a hub of creative people, for artists, to give them a place to sell their work and also to meet other artists at events here, and make some sort of connection. I've been thinking about professional-development workshops for artists, just to help them work through whatever issues they're having, whether its like, “Oh, I need to figure out how to sell wholesale. How do I even do that?” Well, here's someone who's selling wholesale. Now you guys can connect and talk.
How do you decide what classes to put on?
It's kind of a mix of ideas that I have and people that I come into contact with. … I'll try anything right now. I'm really new, and it's always nice to figure out what people want to take. … For one [workshop] coming up, I found [Davis photographer Rik Keller] to teach photography, because I think it's a natural partner to making stuff—being able to photograph the stuff that you make and putting it out into the world. And then, letterpress is something that I do, and I wanted to share that with people.
How did you end up in Sacramento?
We moved here about a year ago from the Bay Area. [My boyfriend] Michael has family in town, so that's maybe one of the reasons why we moved here, but … after I got laid off, we were thinking, “Well, do we want to stay here?” He works from home, [and] we had this realization that we could live anywhere. So, we started looking at … other cities that have good creative communities, and came up here for a couple weeks to try it out and really liked it. It felt really livable and approachable and creative, and we saw a lot of independent, small businesses, and we said, “OK, cool, we can ride our bikes and be a part of this community, and it feels right.” We love it, and there's cool stuff happening, too. It's stuff that you want to be involved in.
What wares are you selling?
Artwork and handmade items. Not everything in the shop is made by hand, but everything is produced on a relatively small scale and starts with the creative work of an independent artist. … A lot of the stuff in the shop is based on really traditional art techniques, but they're very modern interpretations of that technique, like the screen printing or the block printing, or even the ceramics to some degree. … That's something that's very important to me.
I feel like I would just want to keep everything.
I'm often in that boat, but then, it's also a good way for me to choose like, “Would I want this?” or “Is this something somebody else would like?” I like lots of different things, so it's a good measure of what ends up here.