PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After two years at its current location, Studio Z is being forced by its current landlord to vacate its gallery space at the Butcher Block Mill. Gallery/Studio Z owner and director Berge Zobian painstakingly renovated the space over a 17-month period before opening the gallery to the public for its first exhibit in October 2013.
According to the Providence Creative Industrial Space (PCIS) website, the Butcher Block Mill was to be part of a “historic rehabilitation development of the old Eastern Butcher Block Mill into affordable commercial incubator space for creative small businesses.” With this understanding, Studio Z became one of the early tenants on March 2012.
Now, three-and-a-half years later, the owner of the mill has forced all tenants to move out in order to sell the property to a developer whose plans include turning the renovated building into parking spaces. All other businesses in the complex have obliged and left fearing legal wrangling. Studio Z has instead decided to protest the owner’s terms and seeks to recoup its renovation investment and raise funds to pay off its remaining service providers, cost to dissolve pre-existing contracts, loan, and mounting legal fees.
Before moving into the Butcher Block building, Studio Z created architectural plans resulting in extensive renovations to the space. This entailed converting an empty garage into a contemporary art gallery, at a cost of more than $120,000 to design and build out an entire new space. The space consists of exhibition rooms, office, track lighting and constructing a second floor loft for art storage. All of these improvements created an excellent fine art destination.
For more than 33 years, Zobian has introduced local, national and internationally renowned artists to Providence. An active member of the Rhode Island business community, he has also operated the popular Gallery Z on Atwells Avenue since 2001. For years, Berge has lent space to nonprofits for their fundraising and has participated in numerous events raising cultural and historical awareness. Looking for larger quarters, Berge made the decision to expand his gallery to the ample space available in the Butcher Block Mill.
At its new space in the last two years, Studio Z has presented more than 20 exhibits, artist talks, film screenings and art installations and welcomed more than 10,000 art patrons.