Longtime art studio in East Lawrence closing; downtown restaurant set to get historic facelift

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

After 27 years, Lawrence artist Dave Loewenstein is closing his studio at 411 E. Ninth St., which has long served as a collaborative hub in the Lawrence art world.

An art studio that has had a nearly 30-year history in East Lawrence is down to its final days.

Dave Loewenstein is shuttering his longtime studio at 411 E. Ninth St. shortly after hosting a farewell party and “free sale” from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

But, no, the noted muralist and artist who often has been a leader both in the Lawrence arts world and for a number of causes related to his East Lawrence neighborhood, is not retiring from art. He’s not moving out of town either, although you could be excused for thinking so based on recent social media posts, where he said he was heading west.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Loewenstein told me.

Instead, the westward move is to Old West Lawrence. He and his son are moving into a house in that old neighborhood. It has a two-car garage that he has decided to convert into an artist studio. That will give him room to do his work, but the studio won’t have the room to be a “community-oriented space” for the local arts scene like the 411 studio has been for years.

Loewenstein moved into the studio in 1997 when he decided to quit his day job as a baker at Wheatfields and become a full-time artist. In that space he’s come up with a lot of creations, including ideas for some of the larger, more prominent murals in Lawrence. Among Loewenstein’s local work is a huge mural called “The East Lawrence Waltz,” which is on the walls of the Hobbs Park baseball stadium at 11th and Delaware streets, the “Pollinators” mural (both the original and the remade version) in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street, and numerous projects in Kansas City, Topeka, Salina and internationally in Brazil and elsewhere.

Lawrence artist Dave Loewenstein holds a piece of his Pollinators mural after construction workers began to dismantle the artwork at 9th and New Hampshire on Friday, March 6, 2015.

Many times he would use the studio to host fellow artists for collaborations and other projects. While that may not seem like a big deal, Loewenstein said the collaborations were critical and the fact that he won’t have such a space in the future has him feeling “an ache in my gut,” he said in a recent blog he wrote describing the history of the space and his decision to leave.

“The reality is, having that space and being able to invite folks to collaborate really changed the trajectory of my career,” Loewenstein told me.

Part of it was being around fellow artists in a creative space. The other part, though, was having a rent check to write each month. Loewenstein never owned the space despite being there for nearly three decades.

“It was always kind of a money pit for me,” Loewenstein said. “I never really could afford it, but it made me hustle even more to make it work.”

As for Saturday’s “free sale,” that is Loewenstein’s way of saying prices will be nominal, if charged at all, as he works to cut down on the number of items he has to move to his new studio.

“I’m basically giving things away,” he said.

Loewenstein said he knows of no plans for what the 411 E. Ninth St. space may become in the future.


photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The facade of Jefferson’s restaurant at 743 Massachusetts St. is pictured in November 2023.

It is not exactly art nor a mural, but keep your eyes open for a major change to a downtown Lawrence facade. The operators of Jefferson’s restaurant have filed plans with the city to return the facade of their building at 743 Massachusetts St. back to its original historic look.

You may recall that the building currently has a large expanse of metal siding covering much of its second story. Behind that siding, though, is brick dating back to the turn of the 19th century, plus second-floor windows that will be rehabilitated. The building also has a glass transom that runs the entire width of the building, just above the front door. Plans call for those glass tiles to also be restored.

A representative for Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects, who is overseeing the project, said in application materials filed with the city that a goal of the project is to have the building listed as a “contributing property” in the Downtown Lawrence Historic District. If the building gains that designation, it could become eligible for tax credits that could help fund future projects, according to the application.

The facade project still must win some City Hall design approvals before it can proceed, but here’s a look at how the building may appear once the project is completed.

photo by: Paul Werner Architects/City of Lawrence

A rendering shows a potential historic renovation project at the Jefferson’s restaurant building at 743 Massachusetts St.


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