One Night Stand
Thurs. June 27, 6-10 p.m.
Free to attend
Suzanne Allen Studio
24 Dewey St.
Comprised of six talented local artists, the Suzanne Allen Studio is more a group of people than a physical space — although the physical space they inhabit is pretty damn cool. Allen, the self-described "fearless leader and director of all the things" is the face and name of the specialized custom finishing firm that has worked on the interiors of restaurants from Melfi's to Monza to Lewis BBQ to The Royal Tern — the list goes on.
Allen is joined by Amber Grace Joyner, already well-known as a musician around town, who serves as the studio's director of operations; Zoe Temple, the "director of logistics" and graphic designer who is described by her colleagues as a "wizard"; Devon Keim, director of photography and tech guru; Becca Nicholson, another local musician, who is both the director of communications, and, as Allen puts it, a unicorn; and Eli Latham, a director of creative process with a knack for screenprinting. Each piece of the puzzle, part of the whole, is an artist in his or her own right, and they all work together to create installations in both restaurants and high-end residential buildings.
"We all came together from different creative backgrounds," says Allen of the eclectic group that is Suzanne Allen Studio. She's excited when she talks, sitting on gorgeous, long wooden benches she says she made for Garden & Gun's first Jubilee event years ago. Her dog, Rock, lays patiently at her feet — "he's been taking classes," Latham says — and her whole team surrounds her (minus Temple, who is likely off doing wizarding business).
The physical space that is Suzanne Allen Studio is a residential building in North Central, made with wooden walls, no sheetrock — great for acoustics, when Nicholson and Joyner choose to host evening shows — and marked by shelves upon shelves of bright paint, a small kitchen with an impressive espresso machine, and colorful throw pillows, on which the studio's three dogs like to lay.
"We just love being in this space," says Allen. "We're not actually in here a lot, so it's been great to share it with other people in the creative community, a way to give artists a platform." While the Suzanne Allen team is often on job sites, painting, stenciling, climbing borrowed ladders, they find time to re-group in the studio space. It's where they've been working on a collaboration with J. Stark; Suzanne Allen-designed fabrics will be featured in a limited edition series of bags, debuting on July 11.
The studio is also where those artists looking for a platform can come and host shows. Recently, the Suzanne Allen Studio has hosted a performance from longtime Charleston jazz performer Leah Suarez; a pop-up dance production from local dancer and yoga teacher Crystal Wellman, with her group, the Unbound Ballet Project; and a donation-based yoga class from yoga teacher Nikki Patrick.
Allen describes a pillow party held in the space, "We cleared out all the furniture, put pillows and blankets on the floor. Becca and Amber performed."
"When you name all those events back to back, it sounds ridiculous," laughs Latham.
And that's the beauty of the Suzanne Allen Studio. Sure, they create gorgeous backdrops for some of your favorite restaurants — hello, Vintage Lounge's metallic foiled ceiling — but they also know how to have a good time.
In the vein of a very good time, the studio hosts One Night Stand this Thurs. June 27. Described as a team talent show, One Night Stand brings in the work of a number of local, prolific artists, from Anna Todisco to Adam Eddy to Dorothy Netherland. Guests can take home coasters, featuring a print designed by Keim — a night stand, naturally — that are made from seed paper. Plant the coaster, watch something grow, think of the artists of Suzanne Allen Studio.
"I was listening to this thing last night," says Allen, sitting on the edge of one of those cool benches she made, espresso balancing on a tree stump by her knee. "In our society you're supposed to grow up and be responsible and save money for a house and have children and stop giving into your inner child. You create all this structure around your life and people are just zombies. They're just waiting for the weekend, they're waiting to retire. They're just not living. I feel like all of us debunk that mindset. Everything we do is living and fun."