Saturday, December 31, 2011

Help us turn BEFORE into AFTER

Doesn't everyone love before and after photos? Whether it's your newly organized closet, someone's extreme makeover, or the the transition of an auto body shop into a community art center... photos that tell the story of then and now and the journey in between are compelling.

Here are a few of ours. When our volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, Jasmine McAleavey, put them together, we were struck again by what a radical transformation has taken place at 3749 Chicago Avenue. The physical changes are striking, but beyond that, we are even more encouraged by the shifts taking place at our neighborhood intersection. Our doors are now open to welcome the community from nearby and farther away. Doors are open at other new businesses around us. We're pretty thrilled to be part of this "after" - and we couldn't have done it without a whole lot of support along the way.

We've still got a lot of "before" to turn into "after." New programs to launch, additional equipment to acquire, more opportunities to provide. If you're able to help us with a financial contribution today, the last day of CAFAC's first full year in operation, you'll be helping us stoke the fire for an even better new year. Thank you!

Our shop, then and now. One of the first things we did was tear down the old false ceiling and remove tons of crumbling plaster from the walls. There's still more work to be done in this end of our shop, including the construction of a grinding bay.

The mezzanine level is new construction. Tucked underneath it is our classroom, shop sink area, and tool crib. Above - and accessible by wheelchair lift - will be used for our future glass and jewelry programs.

It's one of the most visually striking components of the facility - the railing that surrounds the entire mezzanine level. Designed by a student of our instructor/board member Roger Karlson, the panels were plasma cut and then welded into place.


We were giddy the day our contractor called to say he'd uncovered the original subway tile behind the drywall in what had up until recently been the auto body shop's office. That subway tile had lined the lobby of the Nokomis Theater - the building's original use - and we had no idea it was still there.

And that's the tile floor of the Nokomis Theater's lobby - also a thrilling surprise when it was revealed under a layer of industrial tile flooring. We've taken care to preserve as many of the building's original elements as possible, and the former theater's lobby now serves as our inviting gallery and face to the street.

Above, the Nokomis Gallery, shortly before its grand opening in December 2010. Board members Ryan Knoke and Montana Scheff did miraculous work turning a former auto body shop office into a beautiful, welcoming art gallery. Below, the Nokomis Gallery today, featuring glass and metal work by local artists.

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