Hello Friends, 

We write to share that we will be closing Vitamin Studio at the end of July.  Though it's an emotional sunset to a vibrant, five-year-long sunny summer day, that sun's gotta shed some light on the world for a bit before it comes up again.  I have a few words for you all but as it's a bit wordy, I'll get to the point up front for those of you on the clock.  Our closing reception will be July 20, 2013, at 6 p.m.  We'll have food and refreshments, and as always, art on the walls.  We'd love to spend an evening with you all again to talk about the past and future and anything else, and gather with our friends for one last night of celebration.

The studio has been one of the greatest experiences in our lives, and while it was one of the hardest struggles we've undertaken—coming with a bundle of stress and responsibility unlike anything we've seen—running the studio for five years has been one of the greatest and most rewarding accomplishments of our lives.

I was raised in La Crosse, and I grew up carving what I know to be art from the sandstone, from the river, from the beer-soaked streets and water-logged trails.  It is in La Crosse that I made the difficult decision to quit my "real world" job and pursue the passion that I love best.  It is also here where, nearly 10 years later, Jenn helped me make the frightening leap, to quit my wonderful job at the Pump House, and make art full-time so that I could truly and finally figure out what my potential is.  It is here in La Crosse where Jenn, myself and some friends holed up in some dark, dirty spaces and with the friction of our art rubbing in these small places, with beer and paint and models and music and all of the things that made these last five years so great, we managed to create something. I'm not quite sure what exactly it really was, but it allowed us to meet so many amazing people.  We were able to meet and can now count as friends the greatest artists in the region, and your endless generosity—whether undeserved, or simply misplaced by you and found by us—has really made this a time of immense growth.  We could not be the artists we are today without our time spent with all of you.

Vitamin Studio was a time of great growth for all of us.  We found ourselves within its walls.  We figured out, as best we could, who we are, what we do, and how we do this crazy thing that is life.  We have so much to be proud of.  We ran figure drawing for five years, only missing one hand's worth of sessions in all that time.  We painted murals and pulled monotypes with two classes of elementary and middle schoolers—so many brilliant young people!—each year.  We held critiques where, feast or famine, folks brought in the art they'd been making and we discussed and grew together.  We made a mark on the earth creating and restoring public art pieces.  We held classes and workshops and receptions and exhibitions and all of it came down to simply growing, to sharing, and to helping others get better at this stuff so that we would get better.  Ten years ago the La Crosse art scene was a mystery to me.  Now, my phone is full of artists' phone numbers.  

Vitamin Studio was created to make us better at art.  It was meant to be a vitamin for ourselves and, as long as the doors stayed open, the people all around us.  It was meant to supplement, to aid growth, to aid in all the other vitamin-type ways it could.  It was such a large part of our lives that the studio was more familiar to us than our apartment.  It was a very difficult decision to close it, but it was the next difficult decision.  It was meant to help us grow, and it has given us the momentum and trajectory to do just that.  Now all we need to do is be able to follow through.  Just like knowing your subject matter inside and out helps you as an artist, we need to explore and figure out what this world is made of and what it can offer us.  Eventually, I hope it leads us back to my favorite place, to share and grow with all of you once again as more disciplined, more established, and just all around better artists.

Thank you so much for being a part of this and our lives,

Matt Duckett and Jenn Bushman