ST. GEORGE — Whether you’re a professional artist or you’ve never dabbled in the arts, this creative space holds a class for you.

(L-R) Darcy Lee Saxton, Matt Pectol and Ginny Northcott take a photo inside MakeSpace Kayenta in Ivins, Utah, Oct. 25, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“I love that it’s called MakeSpace because that is exactly what everyone struggles with as far as creating,” Artist Darcy Lee Saxton said. “You have to be intentional about making pace for creating, making space for community, making space for connecting.”

Nestled under the red mountains of Kayenta, MakeSpace is a fine art school that aims to inspire creativity and build community.  Since opening on Jan. 1, 2022, the space has held hundreds of classes – of which most have sold out.

Classes in many visual art mediums are available to the public and include encaustic, oil, watercolor, acrylic, multimedia, drawing, printmaking, pottery and more. Local core instructors that teach classes include Royden Card, Carol Bold, Darcy Lee Saxton, Matt Pectol, Ginny Northcott, Deena Millcamp, Kathy Johnson and more.

MakeSpace also hosts workshops taught by well-known artists who travel to the area to teach. Artists have included Theresa Otteson, who develops courses for the Smithsonian Institute, Linda Tah’naza, who taught at Sundance for almost 20 years, Kristi Grusendorf, a sought-after watercolorist and David Shevlino, an oil painting instructor and world-renowned artist.

An art class takes place at MakeSpace Kayenta in Ivins, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Darcy Lee Saxton, St. George News

The MakeSpace studio found its home inside an old fire station in the Kayenta Art Village. Saxton said it all began when a couple of neighbors wanted a space to bring the community together through the arts. It grew fast, and they realized there was more of a need than they anticipated.

Being with MakeSpace since its inception, Northcott remembers the old fire station storing fire engines. Hundreds of cases of fire-repellant and other chemicals stored there gave the place a pungent smell. They were able to renovate the entire space with the help of community donations and volunteers. An electrician neighbor even built a printing press for the studio, and it’s drawn in famous printmakers from Sundance and beyond. 

“There were a lot of volunteers in the beginning, and gosh, we just kept plugging away until these two come along,” Northcott said about Saxton and Pectol.

Northcott is an acrylic painter and teaches Silverpoint  – a type of drawing in which an artist uses thin pieces of silver wire held in a stylus to make marks on prepared paper. A unique and lesser-known art form, Northcott said it’s more meditative and is making a comeback.

(L-R) Darcy Lee Saxton, Ginny Northcott, Kathy Johnson and Matt Pectol take a photo during the All About Art event in Washington, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Darcy Lee Saxton, St. George News

Saxton and Pectol are both painters who wear many hats at MakeSpace, including having their own studio spaces inside, teaching classes and helping with behind-the-scenes tasks and organization.

Saxton teaches fluid acrylic art, which includes pouring paint onto a canvas and creating a space for artistic play. Teachers are well-compensated and supported at MakeSpace, and she said they are constantly scouting for new instructors. 

Pectol teaches oil painting. In his class, each person brings their own paintings to work on in a group setting. He loves that it brings artists together and provides a creative energy that each artist feeds off of.

“It’s a great community of artists developing art together,” Pectol said. “And that’s really what MakeSpace is about, right? That is MakeSpace.”

One of the most rewarding things for the three artists has been watching people try art for the first time, which leads to multiple classes and falling in love with a medium that truly speaks to them.

MakeSpace is a not-for-profit organization and is run by local volunteers with all proceeds being invested in growth. Costs to run the facility are covered through class tuition and the rental of private studio spaces to local artists.

For more information on MakeSpace Kayenta, including available classes, visit their website. Follow @makespace_kayenta on Instagram for updates.

Photo Gallery

The inside of MakeSpace Kayenta is pictured in Ivins, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Darcy Lee Saxton, St. George News

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