For Monica Ceniceros and Whitney Avra, starting their own art-focused coworking and community space has been a longtime dream. As co-founders of atxGALS, an organization empowering up-and-coming female artists, the pair provides unique opportunities for their members through an array of pop-up showcases benefitting local charities.
“We’re finishing our second year of doing these traveling pop-ups, and the opportunities we’ve created for our artists have been awesome, but we came to a point when we couldn’t expand on them,” Ceniceros says. “We were really looking for the next step.”
Examining their core group of 35 artists, which include everything from watercolorists to multimedia artists, they noticed that many in their circle were looking to grow their careers but struggling to find ways to do so.
“We saw this need in the market for not just more affordable studio space but a space that would allow artists to work in an open coworking setting,” Ceniceros. “Whitney and I had been talking about finding a permanent gallery space and wanted to find something that really represented our brand.”
Ceniceros reached out to a friend who connected the pair with a commercial real estate agent. Serendipitously, their perfect spot was actually the first property they looked — a 1930s refurbished church on East 16th Street.
“From the beginning it had everything we needed,” Ceniceros explains.
And while there are plenty of coworking spots around the city, The Cathedral, as they are calling their new venture, has enough space for them to continue to host atxGALs events, which typically welcome between 200 and 400 guests, solo shows, community workshops, and member areas with designer and drafting tables in addition to private studios.
The sanctuary part of the historic chapel is the perfect location for coworking, while the two-story back building on the property, once home to Sunday School classrooms and the pastor’s office, is where they will install private studios.
The pair plan to have six studios, all varying in size, with some able to accommodate up to four artists, 10 to 15 dedicated desks, and room for about 150 members.
And as part of their mission to continue to help their beloved creative community, Ceniceros and Avra offer scaling membership fees that are affordable for artists even in the budding stages of their careers. For creatives who just need a small space to work, such as a drafting table or an easel, their basic membership is ideal and at a price that is affordable.
“While our private studios are on par with some places like Canopy, our artists can work in the open space or have a designated desk,” Avra says.
And while the Cathedral will not open to the public until mid-October, Ceniceros and Avra are already signed up to host the East Austin Studio Tour and scheduling artist-taught workshops.
“There’s going to be one that is mixed media that I’ll be teaching, another artist will be teaching architectural type drawing using watercolor, and we will have an acrylic artist,” Avra says.
The workshops, which are ticketed, are open to both Cathedral artists as well as the public, though members will have exclusive access to the atxGALS marketing platform to promote each event.
“We want to become a staple in the art community with this space,” Avra says.
To purchase a membership or keep up to date, visit thecathedralatx.com.