Jody Alexander's book making and paper art studio. Photo by Rosanna van Straten

Located where Highway 17 spits cars out into the city of Santa Cruz, the Tannery Arts Center resembles a gateway, a picture of what the Santa Cruz art community stands for.

Phase two of the Tannery Arts Center has just been completed — the Creative Arts Center — leaving it with only one phase left to reach its final vision.

In a written statement, Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane remarked on the importance of the Tannery expansion.

“The arts community is such an integral part of Santa Cruz, bolstering both our cultural life and economic vitality,” Lane said. “With the Tannery Arts Center’s expansion, we continue to demonstrate why Santa Cruz is recognized around the country as a true Mecca for the arts.”

Tannery Arts Center executive director Rachel Goodman said the opening of the new studios is a major milestone in the history of the center, which aims to provide an affordable studio and housing community for artists.

The grand opening will take place this Friday at 4:30 p.m. and will continue until midnight.

While phase one provided living and working spaces for artists, the 30 studios built in phase two allow artists to create work and show it in the same space, combining creative and business aspects. Phase three will be the completion of the performing arts center.

The studios will host a wide range of artists and their media, including printmaking, jewelry making, painting, dance, framing, photography and glassblowing. These new studios are the best way to bring work to the public, Goodman said.

“It’s really the first part of the Tannery that’s fully public, where artists have their doors open, with lots of open studio space,” Goodman said.

Goodman said a big part of making the Tannery a more public space would include making it more accessible to students and postgraduates. She said she sees great potential for collaboration between the university and the Tannery.

Rebecca Goldman is managing editor of Catamaran Literary Review, a quarterly magazine that will be publishing poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art from one of the new Tannery studios. She said she is looking forward to working with students.

“I see the Tannery as a great post-education career-building space,” Goldman said. “We will definitely be looking for interns, come next fall.”

Jody Alexander, owner of bookmaking and paper arts studio Wishi Washi, which has now moved into one of the new studios, said she loves the feeling of community the new artist workplace provides.

“It’s the biggest space I’ve had to work in,” Alexander said.

She gives workshops in paper arts — staining and marbling paper — and book binding, often to UCSC students. Alexander said a collaboration between the UC and the Tannery could foster strong work.

“I taught at [UC Santa Cruz],” Alexander said. “The students always pushed at what they could do and what they thought was possible, and I loved that — always trying new things. UCSC’s student body really pushes and challenges.”