An Artistic Think Tank

A closer artistic collaborative community is on the horizon with the opening of the Roderick Artspace Lofts. On Wednesday, the project six years in the making and with the price tag of $12.7 million, opened when 11 of the 51 units became occupied. The tie that binds the occupants of this newly developed facility in Downtown El Paso is that all the tenants are artists.  “We have a few musicians, a dancer, painters…and there is a music producer in here,” said Stephanie Ortero, special project director at the El Paso Community Foundation.

Artspace located downtown at Oregon in between Wyoming and Missouri is affordable housing governed by HUD and each tenant applying must meet stringent regulations to earn a spot in the now coveted units. “The residents have to be below 60% of the median income in the city. For an individual that’s about $22,000 and for a couple that’s about $25,200,” said Otero. Rent is expected to range from $200-$800 per month based on a sliding scale.

Donors and supporters toured the space housing 1,2 and 3 bedroom units as well as the El Paso Community Foundation Gallery on the first level—an interchangeable open area where the artists can utilize the space to exhibit their artwork or host performances. Otero said the space also encases commercial opportunities. “There is a series of commercial units that are to be rented to people who are either artists themselves or who support art in the community, and that helps offset the cost of the building.” Musician Jim Ward, Fab Lab, Proper Print Shop and Peter Svarzbein have already taken advantage of this opportunity located next to the gallery and should be moving in throughout January. 

The names of the artists accepted into the space could not be released, but officials say there is a waiting list since receiving 125 applications for the 51 units. 

Insitu, designers of the space, took into consideration the various art forms practiced by the building’s intended tenants and created additional studio space downstairs with protective sound so artists can practice or make work that creates more noise like metal smithing. 

Painter Diego Martinez was chosen as a tenant and says he is looking to help expand the art community in El Paso and feels Artspace is conducive in fostering the relationships between businesses and artists. “The atmosphere at Artspace is like no other. Artspace is such a beautiful experience to be a part, because everyone that has moved in is full of excitement that is profoundly contagious. It has been nothing but a positive and encouraging place, where artist can brainstorm in a comfortable and modern environment in the heart of this city.  The artist I have met, are motivated more than ever to tell the story of this region through the creative process and I am looking forward to creating my best work yet,” said Martinez.

Eric Pearson, president of EPCF said the building would be dedicated to Dorrance D. Roderick who was a strong supporter of the arts, “He published the El Paso Times for 45 years, he started KROD-TV, which is now KDBC channel 4, KROD radio, he loved classical music, he supported the El Paso Symphony. He paid its debts every single year so it’s now the longest continuous running symphony in the country. He was a huge supporter of the Community Foundation.”

Land developers Chris Cummings Sr. & Chris Cummings Jr., his wife Michelle Cummings and Katherine Brennand, community and civic patron, offered their leadership and donated the land but deferred having the building named after them.   

Roderick Artspace Lofts should be filled by the end of February 2017.  For further information please go to


Photos courtesy of: Brian Kanoff and the El Paso Community Foundation