When developer James A. Goodnight bought a Pepto-Bismol colored house near downtown two years ago, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. So last fall he rented the property to a group of artists and challenged them to make as much art as they could in a year.
Since last August, eight artists who have occupied the space on Davie Street have put on nearly 15 exhibitions and hosted pop-up shops, workshops and a holiday market.
They will present two more shows in the coming weeks before the Pink Building Project comes to an end.
“We really jumped in feet first, and it was really ‘go big or go home,’ ” said Shelley Smith, who oversaw the yearlong residency.
The project was so successful that Goodnight has offered the artists a permanent 8,000-square-foot space in south Raleigh. Anchorlight will accommodate a variety of artists, including musicians.
Goodnight said he plans to announce the exact location of Anchorlight in September.
The previous owner of the 2,100-square-foot Davie Street property, which used to be a dentist’s office, painted the building bright pink to deter loitering, Goodnight said.
“He had a problem with drug dealers and gang-types hanging out in front of it, so he painted it pink, and they stopped hanging out there,” Goodnight said.
The area east of downtown Raleigh is ripe for redevelopment, but Goodnight was unsure of his vision for the pink building. He pitched the idea of an art studio and met Smith through an artist he knew.
Each of the artists pays about $100 a month to have studio space in the building.
“What I saw was a need in the arts community to find affordable rental space, and affordable exhibition space,” Smith said.
Even so, Smith, who was finishing her master’s degree from N.C. State in art and design, worried the pink building would be a bust. Advertising was limited to social media.
“Every time we had an event, we would cross our fingers and say, ‘I hope people come,’ ” she said. “And they always did.”
The artists hosted a show that focused on the General Assembly’s decision to pass House Bill 2, which requires people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.
Smith, who is opposed to the bill, put out an open call to artists. They responded with works ranging from pillows to live performances.
“(Artists) felt like it gave them an opportunity to do something,” she said.
Many of the artists plan to transition to Anchorlight, and Smith said she’s glad to have community backers like Goodnight. He believes in Raleigh’s art scene and is willing to provide affordable space to creative people, even though he could find a tenant able to pay more, she said.
“That is a huge risk for a property owner,” she said. “I definitely appreciate the faith that was placed in me.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi
If you go
Artist Alexis Price will present “New Media Menagerie” from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at 501 E. Davie St., Raleigh.
The Pink Building Project will present its final show from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. It will feature painter and collage artist Cliff Elliott.