Need Help In Opening The Doors To Unique Children's Art Studio!


Come join us, and let's open the doors of Love Lab Studio! Our unique and sweet children's art studio is located in sweet Portland, Maine. We are raising community funds to cover our renovation costs and to make a safe, welcoming and beautiful creative space. Join our Love Lab tribe! Love Lab Studio is about taking action to co-create a better + more just world for all. Join us!

A Children's Art Studio

Love Lab Studio is about taking action, with children and community, to co-create a better + more just world for all. That sounds utopian, but we think that experimenting, with imagination, intention, and reflection, to co-create a better world is part of our work as human beings. And this starts with a children's studio.

Our studio is founded by artist Christina Bechstein (with awesome neighbors + collaborators) to support us all to make conscious creativity happen with simple materials, strategies, projects and tools that are good for us AND the environment.

Our bright new space will be thoughtfully curated for the needs of the children. We are located in a mixed residential and retail neighborhood in the West End of Portland, at the edge of a beautiful park and playground. We will support the tending of trees and plants at a nearby food forest, and plan to eventually harvest plums and make jam together!

Love Lab Studio: What Will We Do?

Everything we do centers the art studio as both a place and an idea of creativity and imagination.One of our inspirations is the work of Detroit arts leader Josephine Herrald Love, who shared with us that "in art, allow the child to teach you about them - you are the learner, they are the teacher.” Another is the child-centered and creative pedagogy developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy by Loris Malaguzzi. This places the “atelier” or art studio in the center of the learning environment as a collaborative element in the creation of projects and learning.

In summer 2018 our work is to launch the studio & the community public art clay tile project.

For fall 2018, programming includes:

1. Children's art workshops.

Weekly + seasonal art workshops for children. Each workshop will incorporate natural materials and creative prompts, and respond to themes connected to the greater world around us, contemporary artists, nature and more.

2. Saplings Studio.

A creative, part-time learning + afterschool program. Co-created by a skilled teacher collaborative and offers hands-on learning in a joyful and playful atmosphere. Children engage in creative exploration of art, integrated reading and writing, and math skill development based in problem-solving. They learn in nature, in the community, and with each other. We value: the whole child through embodiment, diversity and inclusion within a caring community; the child as poet, communicator + participant through language development; the child as co-creator with project-based and individual learning; the child as artist through arts, creativity + imagination; and the child as community member, global & ecological citizen through community projects.

3. Community projects.

The studio will offer monthly First Friday art exhibitions that focus on work by children and the community. We'll also be collaborating with organizations, community members and neighbors on specific projects. Some of the projects we partner with and collaborate on currently include: The Portland Lantern Walk, a creative community and public art series that culminates in a large-scale community event in Deering Oaks Park, with Annie Leahy and Friends of Deering Oaks Park. Sister Makings is a group that meets regularly to co-create space for local and new neighbor sisters and their children to gather around conversation, food, service, gardening and craft. Community partners include Heartfelt School and Cultivating Community.

Opening The Doors: What's Needed

There are basic renovation costs to get the studio up and running!

We are grateful for the skilled design and construction support of theBarrett Made team in Portland, Maine. Dreaming up hanging systems and curtain walls to create a flexible creative community and exhibition space has been the vision of our friendRonit Eisenbach. Our friend and local designer Jennifer Muller has graced us with our joyful new logo and sweet design perks. Local artists from Better Letter will paint our sweet sign, and local artists will sew cushions for our sitting + drawing window nooks. Our creative building + musician friends at Bondeko will be installing and co-creating our community art tile wall and sink area, amongst other creative work.

NATURAL AS WE CAN We work to be as natural, sustainable, recycled, mindful and healthy as we can be with all the renovations and materials.

NUTS + BOLTS We currently need to raise $20,000 to support the renovation of the space! The costs that will be covered in this amount in addition to permitting and design fees include the following:

  • Drawing + reading + visiting window nooks Cozy & inviting window seating for children and community with bright and soft cushions. Simple birch plywood seats with a plexi guard at the window will provide protection for little ones.
  • Art + tool hanging Giant sheets of homasote will be installed on walls with screws + washers and painted, to hold art and supporting sound absorption. Additional hanging systems influenced by the creative wisdom of the Shaker community will layer in pegs for hanging as needed.
  • Doors Safe, dry and warm front door and bathroom door with threshold (ADA compliant).
  • Tracks for curtains + track lighting Lighting for space and tracks for felt and voile curtains to divide and create a flexible and gorgeous working space.
  • Community clay wall + washing basin A long, narrow 6-foot farm sink will allow children to wash brushes and hands together. Above the washing sink will be a gorgeous community public art mosaic wall of small handmade clay tiles, each covered with marks made by children from Portland’s parks, food forests and urban gardens. Please note: additional patrons of public art clay wall needed.
  • Paint We will use soft yellows, cool blues and other colors from nature to support creativity and co-regulation of community and children in the space.
  • Signage Bright and joyful signage to hang outside and inside the space with names of all who contributed to the studio!

If additional funds are raised over our goal, they will support the cost of furniture, art supplies, a temporary accessibility ramp as needed, and the goal of funding a number of free spaces in every single children's class that we offer.

Your Gift Will Give

We believe in one human family and in the rights of every child. So the money raised isn't just about the art studio. Love Lab Studio campaign will also donate 10% of all funds raised to support RAICES Family Reunification Fund. This is an organization doing important on-the-ground work to support and reunify children who are being separated from their families.

Our Gift To You

The greatest gift we give by being a part of this project is a space where children and the community can express their creativity. We want you to know that for every gift you give, we will do our best to be present creatively to our children and community. We honor your gift, and will make the most of your contribution.

Additionally, we have perks for you!

Please look them over and let us know if you have any questions.

Are you part of a business and want to be one of our creative business partners? We'd love to chat and show off your support on our videos, printed materials + other stuff we create.

And now: the perks! The sweetest designed 'let's create...' bags, kiddo t-shirts + onesies to melt your heart. Plus workshops and consulting and all kinds of stuff. We've got the goods. If you want some combo of what isn't there, reach out!

Thank You + More Ways To Be A Part Of Love Lab !

We need you to help us do this!

  • So: first, help us make some noise!!! Share, share, share away. We need many folks to see this and give what they can. This studio belongs to our children, and they need us to open the doors!
  • We are so grateful for you, thank you for being a part of our community.
  • xoxo, Sending you lots of love, creativity + the ability to take action!