Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Adds Color to Hyattsville Life

By: BreAnna Bell

HYATTYSVILLE, Md. – An internationally acclaimed artist known for teaching printmaking and drawing at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia has an exhibit on display at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC) in Hyattsville.

Chadwick Tolley is one of many artists who have found PAAC welcoming and supportive to the artist community.

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The PAAC opened its doors in their new Hyattsville location, 4318 Gallatin Street, in 2016 and since then, has been enriching the Arts District by equipping artists with tools and a space to make and showcase their art.

The local nonprofit specializes in printmaking, handmade paper and book art. The staff teaches stone lithography, intaglio printing, letterpress printing, screen-printing, papermaking, and more.

Kate Davis, PAAC’s executive director, says it’s because this genre of art is not only “totally cool,” but also, because the equipment for this type of art can be pricey and many artists cannot afford it. It offers a co-op style space with resources to better help the artists.

However, this space doesn’t exclude other artists from their help either. The office has many artists renting studio space: some painters, comic book artists, and even a cowboy boots designer.

“Our core programs are equipping, educating, and exhibiting. In the equipping, there is a great benefit for local artists to have this equipment available and in their backyard, not to mention the private artists’ studios that are a much-needed asset for any arts community. Our network of teaching artists rocks and we have education options for those ‘just curious’ through those who are seasoned artists. Lastly, our exhibitions promote local and national artists and create social occasions for people to come together to talk about art, or just be in an art-centric space.”

The PAAC follows through on their promise to teach by incorporating art programs with local schools. In their previous location, the PAAC had a colorful program with Montgomery County Schools. Throughout the year, the students designed and printed on their sneakers, skateboards, etc. and visited the PAAC’s Montgomery county office for free demonstrations.

“For us, this is about helping elevate the profile of our neighborhood, bring in more business for the community, and increase the quality of life for residents,” said Davis.

Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center offers approximately 150 free hands-on workshops (e.g. mask-making for Halloween) a year, seven art exhibitions, free open studios, and they also throw fun special events throughout year.

James Quigley, the owner and founder of Model Citizen Press LLC, first got involved with the organization in 2012 through a letterpress workshop. Quigley says he has seen a great response from the area since the PAAC joined the community.

“I’ve given lots of tours of the building to all sorts of curious visitors. Some of those visitors end up taking classes and integrating themselves into the Pyramid community, and act as force multipliers in getting Pyramid’s message of ‘do art’ out to the public.”

What makes this place so special and different from other nonprofit organizations, in Quigley’s opinion, is the people. He describes the people of the PAAC to have a very warm way of encouraging their visitors to pursue their artistic dreams.

“They were extremely patient and welcoming when I was starting out. I had done corporate graphic design for over 20 years, and hanging out in an art studio was a bit of a new thing for me. I was accepted, and always encouraged to stretch.”

Jane Leuders, another artist who rents studio space at the PAAC, also echoes Quigley’s appreciation for the people of the organization.

“Pyramid attracts people from all over the country and even international artists, who come to the facility to make art.  They are young and old, newbies and seasoned creatives. Everyone who  comes to Pyramid is there, because they want to learn how to do new things creatively and Pyramid allows them the chance to figure out how to do that.  Many of us work to make things to sell, so it helps provide a livelihood.“

Tolley’s exhibit, “I Hope You Find What You Are Looking For” is on the second floor of the building. To see their workshop and events schedule, visit their site http://www.pyramidatlanticartcenter.org/.

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