There is a new era beginning at the Golden Belt campus in downtown Durham, an art gallery that has been the home of major artistic projects for the community. Golden Belt, originally known for its textile factory, is now embracing the many arts cultivated in the Durham area thanks to fresh ownership.
In 2016, Scientific Properties, LLC sold the Cordoba building on the Golden Belt campus to New York real estate investor, LRC Properties for $4.5 million. In July 2017, LRC Properties invested over $19 million into the Golden Belt.
According to Cushman & Wakefield, 85 percent of the buildings were leased at the time of purchase.
The vast changes to the Golden Belt have affected many people, including the artists at the Warehouse Artist Studios.
The Cordoba building was the first vision for LRC Properties and is roughly 190,000 square feet. The LRC is now offering about 10,000 square feet of space for artists at a reasonable price. Along with art studios, the Cordoba building now holds galleries and the Cordoba Arts Center.
Audrey Pinto, a box and book artist from Boston, is focusing on the positive changes occurring at the new studios and the growing community of artists.
“The studios are a bit smaller, so we are paying less rent, which I am very happy about and almost all the studios are now rented,” said Pinto. She has been at Golden Belt for about three years.
Her love for art began in high school, and she has been taking art classes and professional workshops ever since.
“I’m very happy to be here doing what I love. I know that for some of the artists, the movie was challenging because of the smaller studios and less natural light,” said Pinto. “Despite these challenges, I believe the new owners are invested in building and supporting a vibrant community of artists from many different backgrounds. It is a very exciting time to be part of Golden Belt.”
The Cordoba building has a rustic industrial and aesthetic appearance with towering ceilings and exposed brick galore. The Durham Art Guild, established in 1948, is housed in the new building and near the artists studios.
The Durham Art Guild’s mission is to enrich and connect communities through the power of leadership for visual artists.
Kristin Gibson, a painter located on the second level of the new studio, is excited about how the new ownership in revolutionizing Golden Belt.
Pinto and Gibson believe that the new space has opened Golden Belt to a greater array of artists than ever before. Digital artists, performance artists and documentarians are calling the complex home and a place to exhibit their work.
“I love it here. There have been so many artists now opening up more since we moved here,” said Christine Long, an oil painter whose studio is at the Golden Belt.
Formerly a nurse, Long’s paintings capture the struggles of adversity. Her classic style and oil painting technique is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
“I enjoy what I do,” said Long.
One of her most praised paintings is of a black man that is clothed from the waist down. She brought out the details into his strong expression, physique and muscular structure. Long called the painting “The Triumph of Samson,” inspired by one of her previous patients, a 19-year-old man diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Long expresses how some of her best work was made at the Golden Belt artist studios and she would not trade her studio for the world. Pinto echoes her enthusiasm.
“It could be more than vibrant here; it could be collaborative,” Pinto said.
The sense of community is already beginning to show. Some of the artists now hold group drawing sessions, where they all use the same subject to improve their talent and save on costs.