ASU School of Art to move half of graduate programs to downtown warehouse space

Michael Levine
Michael Levine renovates historic warehouses downtown, supporting local arts and businesses. The ASU Herberger Institutes’ School of Art plans to half its graduate programs to the warehouse. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and Arts’ School of Art will be moving five of its 10 graduate programs to its new facility in the Levine Machine, a renovated warehouse in downtown Phoenix.

Students in the painting, drawing, sculpture, fibers and intermedia MFA programs will have access to a studio space of 26,000 square feet that is being rented out to ASU in the Levine Machine building. There will be nearly 35 studios around 250 square feet each in ASU’s portion of the Levine Machine, as well as a critique space and MFA student art gallery, according to Adriene Jenik, the director of the Herberger Institute’s School of Art.

Classes will still be located on the Tempe campus, but the studio space will be located downtown and critiques will take place there.

Jenik said many art scenes around the world are in downtown areas and use warehouses as studio space, so moving some of the School of Art’s MFA programs to the warehouse district was a natural step.

“We needed a place where the students could all come together, and there was no building in the horizon in Tempe,” Jenik said. “The studios are a lot larger and nicer than what (the students) have now, and mainly they’ll be able to be together, and it’ll be a hub of activity for the grad students.”

The first phase of the transition is moving the painting and drawing programs, as well as the currently Tempe-based graduate student art gallery, The Step Gallery, to the Levine Machine. The second phase will involve moving the sculpture, fibers and intermedia programs downtown, said Deborah Sussman Susser, the communications and media specialist at the Herberger Institute.

“The facilities are amazing downtown,” Susser said. “It’s a really interesting fit, a really good fit for the School of Art.”

Michael Levine, owner of the Levine Machine, said he is excited about the Herberger Institute’s School of Arts’ use of the Levine Machine and believes his facility will fit the MFA students’ needs.

“(With art) you don’t want to be constrained by the architecture,” Levine said. “You need big studios, large lights, big doors to carry things in. Anything in the visual arts, you need good facilities, big space and good architecture.”

Levine said the move comes at a good time, as the arts scene in downtown Phoenix continues to grow and expand.

“ASU is thinking more progressively, and I’m confident ASU will love the area, and it will be beneficial to the arts students,” he said.

Jenik said he agrees, adding the location in downtown Phoenix will provide more opportunities for the MFA students.

“There’s a lot of potential for other artists downtown, or collectors or people interested in downtown, because this place will be a lot more accessible than the other buildings we have tucked away on (Tempe) campus,” Jenik said. “There’ll be a lot more exchange possible with the Phoenix art community.”

The opening reception, studio tour and a show of the work by painting and drawing MFA students will happen on Jan. 17.

“I see it as the beginning of a new era for the School of Art,” Jenik said.

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