Artists group to embark on another odyssey

Artists group to embark on another odyssey
Chris Fessenden, founder of The Artist Odyssey stands out front of the old RE/MAX building in Encinitas. The abandoned building has been used as an artist studio for the past few months, but is slated to be demolished in August. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — The building on Encinitas Boulevard that once used to be a bank — the vault is open but empty — and at another time a RE/MAX office is now serving as a temporary studio for artists.

For the past few months, almost a dozen local artists have been sharing ideas with each other and taking advantage of having a space of their own to work.

The whole of the idea was borne out of a frustration that Chris Fessenden, founder of The Artist Odyssey, a group of art lovers that share stories about artists and supports school arts programs, felt due to the lack of space available.

But come August, Fessenden and the other artists will all have to vacate the site — the building is slated for demolition and, pending an application approval from the city, will become a new grocery store and consolidated parking lot.

Fessenden anticipates their final day in the building being Aug. 5, and they’re hoping to host an open house-style event before that for the public to attend and see the works created and the artists that created them.

“My vision for a long time has been to have artists in residence,” Fessenden said of the goal of The Artist Odyssey.

He grew up around the arts and has friends that have built careers in the arts.

“To have a front row seat, to observe them going from their first exposure to the arts to them becoming really accomplished artists and all the struggle, and the failure and the perseverance required to get to where they are now, I felt really fortunate, privileged to be able to watch that,” he said.

That’s what Fessenden is trying to bring to audiences with the open studio and the other work The Artist Odyssey does.

Making an emotional connection with the art, by observing the artist mid-work and talking to the artist about the background and their inspiration, that, Fessenden said, is where the deeper emotional connection between the audience and the artist and the work is.

But since the group’s inception it’s been tough to find a spot where the nonprofit can grow and still be able to pay the rent. The group has had other locations in Del Mar, where Fessenden lives, and in Sorrento Valley.

Fessenden said they’re looking to find a permanent home that will allow them to grow and foster a creative environment, but added that he still doesn’t know where that will be after the August deadline. The group has a kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for new projects.

The building is at 1509 Encinitas Blvd.

This story has been corrected since its original posting.

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