Artists break a sweat at the Sculpture Gym

By Jared Shelly

One local entrepreneur is taking the gym membership business model to the art world.

The Sculpture Gym collects a monthly membership fee and gives people access to 7,500 square feet of woodworking, welding, mold-making and ceramics equipment. Just like a gym, members have their own lockers and can get “personal training” in the form of one-on-one help with projects.

It’s the brainchild of Darla Jackson, a 2003 graduate of the Moore College of Art and Design who opened the facility in late June. The former sculpting teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts got the business up-and-running with a $20,000 grant from Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia.

“When I won, I was like ‘that’s so exciting,’ said Jackson, 32. “Then I was like ‘holy crap I have to start a business.’ ”

So she rented out 1834 Frankford Ave., then a vacant warehouse with no interior walls and filled with discarded trash.

“I was like ‘this is it’ and everybody was like ‘Darla, you’re crazy. This building is gross,’ ” she recalled.

Read more at the Philadelphia Business Journal

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.