All over America old industrial and manufacturing buildings are being turned into art spaces, places where artists can work, teach and show their work in a supportive environment. Pines & Palms; The Georgia – Florida Artists Association, a nonprofit organization based in Thomasville, is taking over part of the old Cuban Cigar Factory on the Vashti campus to offer local and regional creative adults this kind of communal studio space. 

The first two large rooms offer spaces for eight artists, seven of which are already rented. But don’t worry, Vashti is ready to open the entire second floor to Pines & Palms artists. The rooms have high ceilings, oak floors and ample natural light. The spaces rent for $50 a month and include utilities, access to a huge hallway to exhibit work and classroom space at no extra charge.  

The address of the Vashti campus is 1815 Clay St., Thomasville. The Cigar Factory is the big white building with columns. You can tour the studio space by calling Sandi Shaw at (816) 309-5131.

Vashti Executive Director Elijah Miranda welcomes the new activities artists will bring to the site. 

“We feel great to have a fellow non-profit on the Vashti campus,” he said. “Pines & Palms is a growing organization that cares about sharing the arts. We look forward to developing ways that Pines & Palms can partner with Vashti and provide opportunities in the arts for the children and families that we serve. We value the opportunity to collaborate with other organizations and share the resources we have available.”

Pines & Palms loves the factory space and its interesting history. Built in 1893, the Cuban Cigar Factory is a remaining structure of an ambitious suburban manufacturing site built two miles from the center of Thomasville and named “La Cubana City.” The site’s entrance was McIntyre Park. The 40 by 150-foot three-story factory was built in 1893, and at its peak it handled about 100 Spanish-speaking workers. The first floor was for administration and shipping, and the third floor was used for Cuban tobacco storage. The Pines & Palms studios are located on the second floor where the cigars were made. 

In the first two years the imported Spanish and Cuban work force manufactured more than 300,000 cigars, which were sent to Chicago for distribution across the country. By 1900 the cigar venture was over. (Source: “La Cubana City,” Daniel Bronstein, The Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. No. 3, Fall 2006)

The date for the opening celebration is not set. Because of the need to focus on opening the art space there will not be a June or July Pines & Palms BackRoads/BackRooms adventure. If you would like to volunteer at Pines & Palms events, send a note to GoArtists@pinesandpalms.org.

Pines & Palms will continue to have free events with its partners across the community. This summer free art classes tailored to different age groups are coming up at the Thomas County Library in Thomasville.

A class for adults will be on June 14 from 12 noon-1:30 p.m. Beth Weidner will teach how to make abstract paintings by pouring and moving the paint around using gravity, heat and other tools. Students will be able to take home their paintings and show off their work.  

The following week, on June 19 in the same time slot, children from the age of 7 to 11 will work with Sandi Shaw to make a wall mural of the solar system and the cosmos, which will hang in the library for the summer. You can sign up for these classes at the library’s checkout counter.

Upcoming classes for adults at the Cigar Factory Art Space

Mastering Still Life Paintings, Sandi Shaw instructor. Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30, June 25 to July 30. The classes will focus on one painting technique each session with the intent not to leave with a finished painting, but knowing ways to produce a good painting.  Any medium that does not require solvents is appropriate for the student to bring to class. Beginners are suggested to use gouache paints (available on Amazon). Go to www.PinesandPalms.org for details and to register; $90 for members, $125 for nonmembers. 

Plein Air Master Craig Reynolds’ Three-day Workshop, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 23-25 with an optional meet and greet the night before. Craig is a nationally known professional artist from Gulf Shores, Ala., who sells his works across America.  At the annual Cotton Pickin’ Paint Out in October Craig knocked out the participants with the quality of his work; Pines & Palms is happy to deliver the workshop they clamored for. His class will take the students from the start of a painting out of doors in the early morning and end with the completion of the details of the work in the cool studio. Fee: $320 for members and $350 for nonmembers; box lunches included. Go to www.PinesandPalms.org for details and to register on line before July 15 and get a 10 percent discount. Beginners are welcome.