The Making of Window Studios

In case you missed last night's lecture at WINDOW STUDIOS, here's how it got started.

By Nicholas Rispoli

WINDOW STUDIOS: How two Academy alumni connected to start a storefront community art center in  Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2013 02:47:16 -0700
To: (me)
Subject: Studio                               
Hey Nick, yes it is the same Anne! Nice to hear from you! Would you be able to come see the studio tomorrow (Thurs) any time before 3pm? If so, give me a call.
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 09:29:31 -0700
Subject: Studio

Hello Anne!

Is this the Anne LaFond from NYAA? Either way, I hope you are well. I am very interested in the studio and would love to take a look ASAP.

Thanks so much.



And so began a partnership and year-long journey, dedicated to developing WindowStudio into a unique art space that offers much needed resources to local artists, youth, and families of all economic backgrounds in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Anne and I attended the Academy together from 2008-2010 where we were familiar with each other’s work but never really had the chance to connect. She was attending the Academy while keeping her job and raising her children, so there was less time for her to spend around school. I was preoccupied with teaching in Harlem and my own personal shenanigans. When Anne admitted to me recently that she considered my crew and me to be the “cool kids,” I didn’t know whether to be offended, embarrassed or flattered (She says, she meant it as a compliment!). I am sure this didn’t help build our relationship at the time…

At any rate, when we reunited a few years later by that fortuitous email inquiry, Anne and I quickly discovered our shared vision to implement a supportive and inclusive community art center that offers artist residencies, workshops, and exhibition opportunities to artists who may not otherwise have access to such resources. The notion of “professional practices” never became more relevant here, since starting a non-profit from scratch requires 24/7 maintenance and management. The endeavor involves colossal strategic challenges, from budget control, building partnerships, fundraising and marketing, to staffing and program development, among other items. Luckily, our unique set of experiences made us the perfect team. Anne has saved us on a number of occasions, and I’d like to say that I at least aided in Window Studio’s development for the better. But truthfully, I was inspired by Anne and the incredible impact she had already made on the community. She empowered both of us to strive to create something authentic, inspired and artistic, and something more profound then we are. For that I am forever grateful.

Anne founded Window Studio in September 2012 to create what she called a “collaborative portrait” of the community, with the Academy’s emphasis on working from life as part of the inspiration. In its initial phase, Window Studio engaged passersby through seeing her at work in the storefront window as she painted commissioned portraits and other artwork. Anne actually continues to paint portraits of the community as the first Artist-In-Residence at Window Studio.

Anne LaFond, Inside/Out (Portrait of Griffin), oil on canvas, 48X35 in, 2014 
Working with Anne to foster her vision coincided with my own interests and prior experiences in the arts non-profit sector. I’ve seen how the number of people who regularly came in has grown from a small handful to upward of 15-20 each day, and it is very exciting to be able to start a community art center to meet this interest and demand. This past summer we organized an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and thanks to the help from all our friends, family and neighborhood supporters, we are finally ready to start programming this fall with a new artist-in-residence, workshops, and special event. 
Our first exhibition, Shall No Perish, opened September 13, 2014 and was a smash success with over 120 people from the neighborhood and across the NYC area joining us. The show included several Academy alumni: Antonia Andriotti, Jessie Brugger, Nicholas Holiber, Will Kurtz, Rob Plater, Jessie Brugger and Miles Yoshida, in addition to Anne and myself. If you couldn't make the opening, there is still time to see the show! It will be up till October 18, with more events surrounding the exhibition in the works.

As we develop Window Studio, Anne and I look forward to working with Academy students, faculty, and alumni by partnering for events, exhibitions, and other artist opportunities. We invite Academy students and alumni to pursue all the resources available at Window Studio and hope to be another outlet for the Academy students to pursue new opportunities and expand their network of artists! I am grateful to have sent that, “Is this the Anne LaFond from NYAA?” email a year ago! 

Nicholas Rispoli (MFA 2010) and Anne La Fond (MFA 2010) took their careers and matters into their own hands creating a space to show their work along with those in their community. 

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