Northern Liberties Gets a New Artistic Hub with 1040 Creative
The brand-new NoLibs space contains an art gallery, artist studios, and classes for all ages.
Northern Liberties is certainly having something of a renaissance this year, seemingly opening a new business every week. And what renaissance is complete without the arts?
Enter 1040 Creative, a new arts and culture hub that just opened on Liberties Walk. The creation of artists and co-owners Pauline Houston McCall, Marcy Morris and Sheena Garcia, the space will serve as an art gallery, makerspace, and place for artists of all ages to take classes. The 1,600-square-foot multi-level space will also serve as a studio for all three founders.
Garcia was born and raised in Northern Liberties, so opening 1040 Creative in the neighborhood was a perfect fit. McCall also lives in NoLibs, and as an art educator has fostered relationships with preschools and primary schools in the neighborhood. The two women had come together years ago in the Women Holler artist collective. “We would support each other, watch each other’s children… it was fabulous. It was just so grassroots,” McCall says. McCall encountered Morris years later at an art exhibit, and was inspired by her community outreach (in Chester and Camden). A partnership was born, and McCall signed the lease for 1040 Creative on March 1st, the first day of Women’s History Month.
Or rather, the building that would become 1040 Creative — the space was formerly a chiropractor’s office, but something about the layout and location “spoke to our souls,” McCall explains. “That beautiful human connection that we’ve been missing out on during the pandemic… We all need something beautiful. We need a place to create. When I walked into this space, I was like, ‘that’s it, we have to be the answer.’”
The founders hope that their new space will provide a place for creativity, community, and healing after the past two years of collective trauma — “a place where we can come and be free, and be human again,” McCall adds.
As for classes, there will be something for everyone. Adults can come in on Mondays during their lunch breaks, or after work on Wednesdays for the popular Wednesday Wine Down series (beverages are included with that one) that combines art-making with journaling and, yes, wine. Of the class led by Garcia, McCall describes: “I walk up the steps and hear all this laughter, and I walk into a room of culturally diverse women, and I think ‘yes, this is what I want!’”
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In addition to other adult classes and workshops, there is also a senior-focused morning meetup on select Friday mornings. Another unique adult offering is Art Flow on Monday evenings, which combines breath, drawing and Qigong.
Saturdays are for kids’ classes, which include drop-off classes for preschoolers through teens. The littlest artists can join Little Picasso drawing and painting, while older kids can learn cartoon-drawing. Tweens and teens can come for Saturday afternoon art club, as well as a clay-based art class focused on toy-making. Classes are available in sessions, but can be pro-rated and taken on a drop-in basis as well. Email the instructor of your desired class to sign up, and to inquire about free trial class cards.
1040 Creative will also serve as an art gallery, with rotating exhibits and pieces available for purchase. “Sometimes you go into an art exhibition, and it feels so uptight. You’re not quite sure where to stand at what to do,” McCall says. By contrast, their first exhibit took place during their May 6th grand opening party, and had a laid-back and accessible vibe that served them well. “There are red dots all over the place,” McCall says, referring to the stickers placed next to sold pieces. “If a piece is speaking to your soul, then you really should have it, and we will make a way.”
She also reveals that they are planning their next exhibit, “For the Love of Ukraine,” which will feature Ukrainian artists, as well as other artists from the community who want to speak to the humanitarian crisis, “whether their art speaks as a healing song or in a political way.” They are planning to donate some of the proceeds to relief efforts in Ukraine.
Finally, the founders are also in talks to partner with architects, developers and interior designers to commission pieces for new construction in the area and throughout the city. Referencing the development boom currently underway in Northern Liberties, McCall remarks, “They’re here, and they’re building; and we’re here, and we’re art-ing. It just makes sense.”