By KARA SILVA - comp:000049183ad5:000000023d:5016 Water Street Studios, a nonprofit art center in Batavia, recently has expanded into St. Charles with a new location in the downtown area. new
Jim Kirkhoff of Water Street Studios. (Water Street Studios photo)

ST. CHARLES – Water Street Studios, a nonprofit art center in Batavia, recently has expanded into St. Charles with a new location in the downtown area.

The Water Street Studios PrintLab, 117 W. Main St., St. Charles, is a roughly 1,000-square-foot space in the basement of Biggby Coffee. It is a place for working artists and families to dive into printmaking mediums individually or in a classroom setting.

“We’re expanding because we’ve run out of space in our current location in Batavia,” said Jim Kirkhoff, Water Street Studio’s director of development and one of the art organization’s founding members. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s an important element of our mission and something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

A major component aiding in acquiring additional space was the grant Water Street received to buy machinery, which expanded the organization’s offerings in the print, ceramics and metal work mediums. Water Street received $9,945 from the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley – a nonprofit, philanthropic organization – for a programmable kiln controller, plasma cutter and screen printing equipment.

Water Street also received a $6,000 grant from the Kane County Riverboat Fund program to put toward the art center’s Access program.

The Access program will “make the equipment available to the general public as part of open studio rental or Water Street membership,” Kirkhoff said in a news release.

Kirkhoff is looking forward to working within St. Charles to bridge the gaps between the art communities across the Tri-Cities.

“[Water Street] is a regional organization, and we continue to look for ways to bring together artists from all over the region,” Kirkhoff wrote in an email, in which he also wrote that the expansion goes in stride with filling Water Street’s mission to create a personal and diverse venue for creativity, collaboration, expression and education.

The idea of PrintLab is to allow people to transition from taking classes at Water Street Studios to working on their own, while also providing working artists the space to create without a capital investment, Kirkhoff wrote.

Taking PrintLab to St. Charles was the first step and will be followed by offering classes and other media to the public, Kirkhoff added.

PrintLab eventually will offer lithograph, screen printing, relief printing and digital inkjet printing classes and workshops to the public.

In addition to the classes and workshops, which will be announced periodically on Water Street’s website and Facebook page as the staff continue revamping programs for the new facility, PrintLab also will offer Awesome Art Afternoons – similar to the events at its Batavia location – from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays for families to pop in and explore different mediums of art.

“It’s a way to get families working together on a creative project,” Kirkhoff said.

For information about PrintLab or for upcoming classes and workshops, visit Water Street Studios’ Batavia location is at 160 W. Wilson St., Batavia.