Sunday, September 16, 2012

Always something NEW at OLD Shake Rag Alley

Usually it’s a new program, new workshop direction or an inspiring new instructor that gets us excited and ready for a new challenge. While that continues we have even more to celebrate this month. This September we welcomed a new Managing Director and a new unique vintage building to our complex.


Shake Rag Alley's new Managing Director
Courtney Henson
Courtney Henson came on board as our new Managing Director of Shake Rag Alley School of Arts and Crafts. Courtney holds a BFA in Painting from the University of Oklahoma and an MFA in Textiles from Southern Illinois University.  Since relocating to Madison, she has been working at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  Prior to that, she was the Visitor Services Manager for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis. Her background includes teaching, scheduling events, catalogue production and gallery management.

Don Hay, President of the Shake Rag Alley Board of Directors says “Courtney brings a unique blend of art and administrative experience to our Managing Director role. We are delighted with the skills she will add to our energetic and creative team”. She will be responsible for office and site management and lodging operations, plus work with the curriculum committee on adult class offerings, manage other staff and work with other volunteers on special events.

If you haven't done so already, stop in and say hello.


Yes, Shake Rag Alley has purchased a 1940’s Quonset Hut, not another nineteenth century building, but one with character, the right location and a large open space with lots of potential. 

Many have noticed the building at the “five points” intersection of Hwy 23 and Shake Rag St. and probably didn’t know that it adjoined the back of the Shake Rag property. Originally constructed by Bob Gant for his Ford dealership, it has been many things over the years including a feed store, auto parts dealer and sheet metal shop. Soon it will be re-purposed as a new arts space.

Local businessman, Jay Homan had long admired the building and its usefulness. The day he saw it was for sale, he ran into Don Hay and John Lind, Shake Rag board members, who were evaluating it as a potential expansion space for the school. Jay agreed to help them instead of buying it for himself but would lock in the price with earnest money and defer to Shake Rag if their board voted to purchase it. Once they did, Homan donated the earnest money portion and stepped aside because “Shake Rag is our biggest driver of getting people to town and that benefits my business and everyone else’s. I want to do what I can to see that it has a bright future.”

John and Linda Hurley with Shake Rag Treasurer
Sharon Stauffer in front of Quonset Hut
The next lucky break came when John and Linda Hurley heard about the opportunity. "We have been great fans of Shake Rag Alley since we first came to Mineral Point.  It's a wonderful asset to the community and the whole region”. So, with a boost from matching funds available to John from his time as Vice President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, they donated the remainder of the purchase price. “We're delighted to be able to help make it possible to acquire the Quonset hut for Shake Rag."

During world War II, more than 150,000 Quonset huts were built for the U. S. Navy who needed lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to ship and to assemble buildings for housing, offices, hospitals, latrines and storage. After the war, the surplus corrugated steel structures were sold to the public and are often used as outbuildings.

The acquisition of the building is only the first step and there will be many more opportunities to help it become a vital space. Additional remodeling will be necessary to adapt the 5000 sq. ft space to make it useful, flexible and attractive but the possibilities are endless… classrooms, set design studio, meeting space, special events, storage space and more.

Watch for updates on plans as they develop……

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