Studio 55: a room with more than a view in Martinez

Studio 55: a room with more than a view in Martinez

Studio 55: a room with more than a view in Martinez
Happy artists after a mixed media workshop, with Carl Heyward and Akiko Suzuki front and center.

John NakanishiMARTINEZ, CA (Feb. 23, 2023) — Studio 55, the dreamchild of business owner and artist Jill Landau, is a place for artists to relax, meditate and find inspiration.

In the bright and airy space with natural light, you’ll find easels set up in a semicircle, tables with in-progress art projects laid out and inspiring artwork covering the walls. There is something for everyone at this studio.

As owner of Build-Tek, a building-materials company, Landau moved her growing business into the warehouse-size building at 55 Howe St. in Martinez in 2017. Since Build-Tek needed only the first floor, she converted the second floor into a working art studio. Since that time, Studio 55 has taken off and become a hangout for artists.

Landau’s lifelong artistic inclination began early. Her mother was a musician, her father a collector and her grandfather a painter. Landau later graduated from the Philadelphia College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. Beyond that, she often looks to music, hiking and travel for inspiration.

Plein-air painting is a special focus of interest. She spent years learning the art from teachers such as Tim Horn and Jeanette Le Grue, as well as from workshops in Italy and France. Besides painting, Landau is interested in printmaking, having spent 10 years honing her expertise in the craft. She continues to create art in her favorite media and is working on a show with “Group of Nine” at the San Ramon Community Center.

Unique space for artists

Landau drew on her artistic background to fulfill her vision for a space for artists. The unique design, layout and mission of Studio 55 appeals to serious artists as well as casual hobbyists who share Landau’s love of the artistic process. Studio 55 holds regularly scheduled classes and one-time workshops run by a number of talented local artists. Colleen Gianatiempo’s workshops and Sefla Joseph’s figurative painting classes are among student favorites at the studio.

For individual work and to create community with other artists, the studio also offers “open work studio,” in which artists can sign up and pay a small fee for a three-hour time slot to use the studio. Artists bring their own supplies. The studio provides the space to work on projects, utility sinks with hot and cold running water, a common-use kitchen area, Wi-Fi, tables and natural light.

There is also the opportunity to become a “resident artist,” selected through an interview process. Studio 55, currently home to seven resident artists, provides the perfect space for artists to work without restrictions.

“I no longer have to adapt my living space to work on a project and then convert it back to eat dinner,” says resident artist Jim Jordan. “Most importantly, there are a group of serious artists with whom to share the joy.”

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John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi

John Nakanishi is treasurer of The Concord Art Association. He is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K.