Carneal Building: A work in progress

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On the surface, the conversion of the Carneal Auto Service building into an arts center appears stalled.

Appearances can be deceiving.

A step inside shows a noticeable improvement with most of the trash left behind collected in garbage bags.

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A separate pile of nuts, bolts, tools and equipment remain in the building. ArtsRevive members hope these leftovers will come in handy down the line.

“Tremendous progress has been made on cleanup of inside and of the courtyard,” said ArtsRevive member Fran Pearce. “We are getting a better vision of how to use the building on a regular basis instead of just for ArtsRevive events. We’re wanting it to be open more often than just our events so we can showcase the artists in our community on a regular basis.”

A courtyard is planned adjacent to the brick building. ArtsRevive members thought they could salvage a roof on the structure at the back of the site, but building inspectors determined the roof a safety hazard, so it has to come down.

The razing of the old roof won’t affect plans to turn the pothole-riddled concrete now on the site into a welcoming space or even the entire open space into an outdoor art center.

“We’re really excited about the courtyard,” said ArtsRevive Vice President Vicky Stoudenmire. “The view of the bridge is really beautiful and so is the view of Water Avenue. When people come across the bridge, we want [this area] easily recognizable as art.”

Artists who want to use those left over nuts and bolts from the cleanup will have to wait maybe as long as 12 months. Pearce and others hope the group’s March art show will feature the new digs, even with ongoing construction.

“We know it’s going to be a work in progress,” said Pearce. “We’re going to be getting in as soon as we can.”

Regardless of how long it may take, Stoudenmire said the benefits will be worth the wait for both artists and the community.

“[Selma’s architecture] is so aesthetically pleasing. It’s a great place for artists to be,” she said. “I think ArtsRevive has brought some things to the community that haven’t been here for a long time. There’s just been a lot of enrichment to community through projects AR has brought in. I think they want to continue to see these.”