I’ve written many, many blog posts about the vibrant art scene in Joburg, especially downtown Joburg, over the years. But it bears repeating, especially now: Joburg’s artists are this city’s beating heart and its greatest asset. Art is keeping downtown Joburg alive. I was reminded of this last weekend when I attended Joburg’s Open Studios.
Open Studios is an annual event in which a bunch of artist studios around the Joburg inner city are opened to the public, with shuttle service connecting the different buildings so visitors can travel between them. This might sound like a simple concept but it’s a huge deal, as many of these studios are deep in the Joburg CBD (central business district) and not super easy to drive to.
The Open Studios weekend is a great opportunity to meet emerging artists in the spaces where they work — and also live, in many cases — and experience the environment that inspires their art.
A lot of the featured studios are places I know well — Transwerke, August House, Lilian Road, and Ellis House, among others — but I was excited to check out a couple of studios I hadn’t been to before. Here’s where I went.
Asisebenze Art Atelier
I started my Sunday with an Uber ride to Ellis House, where I met my friend Gail. Gail and I then caught the shuttle to Asisebenze.
Asisebenze is a relatively new studio/gallery space, opened within the last two years. It’s in a beautiful old building, recently restored, in the very center of the Joburg CBD. There are dozens of studios inside, many with big windows and great views of the city. We spent most of the day there and I took tons of photos.
From Asisebenze we caught the shuttle to the Living Artists’ Emporium on the east side of the city.
The Living Artists Emporium
I’ve been meaning to visit the Living Artists Emporium, or LAE, for years, as its located inside a unique venue: the Ellis Park Tennis Club.
Ellis House, also near Ellis Park, is one of the more well-established artist studio buildings in downtown Joburg. Gail and I saved Ellis House for last and then spent most of our time there having lunch at Cleo’s, the Ellis House coffee shop/café (which I definitely recommend — especially the coffee). But we did squeeze in a few quality Ellis House visits before the Open Studios ended.
Thanks, Open Studios, for making me feel positive and optimistic about downtown Joburg again. I’m already looking forward to next year.