Harvey remodels TASI

Volunteer Eric McClain solders a pipe during post Hurricane Harvey cleanup at The Studio. ISSUE photo by Stephan Malick

Studio looks to rebuild after rain water exposes wall issues

The Art Studio, Inc. has taken its share of hard knocks from weather over the past 34 years and after some years of slow recovery after hurricanes Rita and Ike, it has taken a beating yet again with Harvey.

The storm forced rainwater through parts of the wall and roof, and put about one inch throughout the office administration areas and classroom. Assessment immediately after the storm was made difficult as power was cut off and travel made difficulty by area flooding.

“It took a couple of days to get the full extent of the damage because no power,” Greg Busceme, executive director and Studio founder, said. “We needed electricity to go in a start clean-up and demolition, especially to vacuum all the water out.”

Although, the water was not deep, the time between discovery of the damage and the demolition allowed the drywall to absorb more water and condensation to build up within The Studio.

“Wet drywall creates a big mess, but we had some previously known termite damaged framing in the sales gallery and entrance area that basically fell apart,” Busceme said. “In some areas, we discovered some unknown termite damage that was just made more extensive by the water damage.”

The timing of the storm postponed the start of The Studio’s exhibition season with the annual Tenant’s Show kickoff, but as the extent of the damage became more evident, more time was needed to prepare for an exhibition.

“This is a minor set-back for us and it allows us to address some issues that needed attention,” Joe Winston, president TASI board of directors, said. “We want to make sure our artists and guests have an enjoyable experience, but we also want everyone in the community to know that we need their help to get the Studio back to full operation.”

The demolition required the removal of all drywall from the main bathrooms, utility room, storage room and significant band around the administrative offices. The gallery area, clay room and tenant spaces downstairs and upstairs did not have any damage requiring any demolition. Plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets are going to be reused once new framing is built, but for the immediate future only the bathroom in the classroom area is functional.

The sales gallery wall adjacent to the entrance was a complete loss due to the prior termite damage. The walls in the kitchen area bathrooms were also a complete loss as well as parts of the offices.

After large scale clean-up and demolition began, one of the bathroom water pipes had a joint fail and leaked partially over one night to flood the kitchen and administration area again.

“Fortunately, when the water pipe leak happened everything was still picked up and demoed so there were no addition losses, we just had to vacuum water up again,” Busceme said. “We we’re lucky to have one of our new tenant artist on hand, Eric McLain, who was able to quickly solder and repair the joint.”

Busceme and Winston said The Studio board is still assessing the financial impact of the storm damage.

“We’re going to see what happens. The Studio has always been about sweat equity — almost anything any one sees at The Studio a tenant, a member or a friend has probably built whatever they are seeing or using,” Busceme said.

Winston said the 34 years of the Studio’s existence is an example of the grit, determination and commitment the organization has made to the Southeast Texas community and he hopes the community will step up and support the rebuilding efforts.

“The Studio is the only independent arts organization of its kind in the region,” Winston said. “It is a thriving, growing organization and is a ‘forever’ institution for the area, and we want to continue our place in the community as the go-to place for exhibitions, adult and kids art classes and music.”

Winston said The Studio doesn’t just need financial support, but also needs volunteers to help clean up.

“Come by, call us, follow us on Facebook or through our website,” he said. “We really need the support of our community members and we are going to be organizing a series of volunteer days to do specific projects.”

Last month, the studio was gleefully announcing the acquisition of its new building adjacent to The Studio’s property. The new building was not damaged and remains usable.

Busceme said some good can come out of this.

“Out of adversity comes opportunity. I always say hope springs eternal. We should’ve quit this years ago,” he laughs, recounting times people said he should give up his dream. “This is the most important mission in my life. And look at us we have been doing this last 34 years.

“We’re hopeful. People can help by bringing their bodies up here to pitch in cleaning up. Of course, monetary support would be helpful to. We are still dealing with some issues from hurricanes Rita and Ike. For example, our large outdoor kilns were destroyed by Rita along with Ike.

“We’re survivors, we’ll persevere. We going to continue to do the hard work we can do ourselves.”

To help, stop by The Studio at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont, call 832-5393, contact it through Facebook or visit the website at www.artstudio.org.

Story by Stephan Malick, ISSUE staff writer

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