Founded in 2020 by Emily Free Wilson and Matt Wilson. With roots from Helena, Montana, this dynamic couple brought their vision of an inclusive creative place to the Oregon Coast. As potters, they have slowly grown their pottery business Free Ceramics while supporting the arts through classes, events and making art studios available to artists. In Helena, MT they continued their mission to support the arts by converting an old funeral home into an active community art center with private art studios. That experience, (and fishing on the Umpqua River, has led them to the incredible old middle school in Gardiner, Oregon.
is a continuation of their lifelong passion to support artists and the arts. Matt has over 20 years of experience in construction and is very capable of helping artists with the technical challenges they face. Emily has a background in gallery work and exhibitions, and as an organizer thrives bringing artists and a community together. Her 10 plus years as Gallery Director at the Archie Bray Foundation gave her a foundation of experience that continues to be a positive force in the art world.
Board of Directors
Advisor - Portland, Oregon
The 45,000 square foot building is an old middle school located in an ideal location in Gardiner, Oregon, just one block off Highway 101, near Reedsport and between Florence and Coos Bay. It overlooks the Umpqua River and is a short drive to the ocean. In the heart of Gardiner, a small town of 150 people, is an ideal location for artists to be inspired by their surroundings while being creative and enjoying an expansive view of the Umpqua estuary.
The building is shared with Free Ceramics, a small family pottery. The 1st floor has a ceramic community classroom and a cafeteria/auditorium for workshops and multi-media classes. The lower gym will be available for large scale construction and eventually a wood shop and small theater. The 2nd floor hosts the “classroom” apartments where residents will work and live.
Down the hallway from the studios is a large open gymnasium available for use.