By Grace Kertz, Editorial Assistant
Three new creative businesses were welcomed this month into the storefronts at Pendleton Arts Block at Independence Avenue and Olive: Yum-Yum Ceramics, Cheeks Studio and Astringent Press. Each of these artist-run or artist-centric businesses are part of Charlotte Street’s pilot StartUp Residency Program, which provides 12-24 months of free residency space to selected innovative, up-and-coming startups. Each of the selected has a unique craft.
Yum-Yum Ceramics was created by J. Will, or Yum-Yum, who has been working in clay since 2006. He shared that, “The impetus for creating Yum Yum Ceramics came from discovering a void in the market – terracotta planters with style and soul.”
Yum-Yum Ceramics uses terracotta to make pots for its functionality and beauty. He detailed that, “Terracotta is porous by nature, so it allows water to evaporate from the inside out, which helps to promote a healthy root system and in turn keeps your plants happy.”
Yum-Yum uses “both hand-formed pottery wheel techniques, and industrial molding methods” and “creates a three-way synthesis of pottery, design and art.”
Yum-Yum described similarities he sees between plant enthusiasts and the arts community, saying, “I see a lot of untapped potential for crossover between the two communities, which I would like to explore with this Startup Residency at the Pendleton Artsblock.” Yum-Yum also strives to reconnect with the community, which has been a challenge since moving back to this city, where he grew up, the first day of the pandemic’s lockdown.
Find more of Yum-Yum’s craft on his Instagram @yum.yum.ceramics.
Cheeks Studio is a hybrid design studio with a cohort of nine individuals who are animators, illustrators, designers and educators.
Collaborating with a range of talents allows the individuals to “get away from the labor of trying to make these giant projects on your own,” said Taylor Fourt, a member of Cheeks.
JC Franco, also part of Cheeks, explained their collaboration saying, “We’re kind of non-hierarchical… whoever wants to do a project are kind of leading the project.”
While the cohort has projects they work on together, many of those at Cheeks also have full-time jobs.
Additionally, Franco shared that they sometimes host workshops with the public. On May 31st, they’re hosting an open feedback night, free to the public. They hope to have this event the last Wednesday of each month, allowing attendees to receive input on their projects on a first come, first served basis.
Astringent Press is a queer black people of color (qBpoc)-led independent book/zine/text/poster press by Zach Frazier. His mission is to “celebrate historically minoritized narratives through the creation of books, zines, and other printed ephemera accessible to all.”
“There’s a big sense of autonomy [in zine-making],” Frazier said, which he leans into. He strives to use this autonomy in a way that speaks to audiences that don’t always have their voices heard.
Although Frazier is the sole owner of the business, two interns started this summer. One focuses on social media and outreach, and the other on photography and documentation.
“It’s cool to be learning how to delegate and share responsibility and support people to succeed,” Frazier said. He also articulated the importance of guiding the interns, adding, “It’s important they’re doing work that they think is fulfilling.”
Beyond interns, Frazier collaborates with others through the Astringent Award. He selected four artists that submitted a proposal for a book, and will begin productions in June. Another thing to look for in June is the KC Zine Con on June 3, which both Astringent Press and Cheeks will be attending, and is open to the public. Frazier is hoping to start developing a zine workshop series debuting in June.