What an emotional day! To see the ceiling scraped, repaired, patched and painted............wow! This has been the day I've waited for. Seeing the ceiling transformed literally led me to tears. This has been a trip I never would have imagined possible just a year ago. Today the dream has become reality. I am filled with pride and with humility knowing that so many people took part in helping me to make Inspiration Studios come to life. Tomorrow we finalize plans for Saturday's Grand Opening. The birthday of Inspiration Studios will be an event to be long remembered. -Erico
What a weekend! About 15 people showed up to help on Saturday, moving, hauling, painting, cleaning, scrubbing, washing, organizing. The gallery is DONE for now. The floors need a little more work, but that can wait until after the grand opening on Saturday.
It's hard to believe that this is the last week to work on this baby. It has come a LONG way from its original look and design. I could not be happier! Well.... maybe just a little... if the theatre side was done TODAY! But soon, very soon.
Today I call inspectors for their assessment. Oh boy....
The gallery now has all the lighing it needs, as of Feb 20. We were able to re-use the track lights that were already on the walls and remount them onto the ceiling. It was a two-day project, but the results speak for themselves. I'm thrilled, to say the least.
And the theatre lights I ordered have arrived. They are AMAZING! Installation of those lights begins today, Friday.
Far too excited to contain myself.... !!
It's all still coming together.
Architect delivered the new floor plans on Monday and the city has cancelled the check... so I expect their review of the plans to take place very soon. I expect all will be in order as far as that is concerned.
Plumbers spent two days repairing some leaking pipes in the heating system... and breaking many others in the process. They found that there were many parts of the boiler system that were completely clogged or damaged beyond repair. They've drained the system a few times, removed faulty parts, installed newer/better parts, repaired all the leaks....and I think they spooked Harry away! I'll know today when I'm there. But the boiler should be working properly. It better be!
Electrical work was begun a few days ago... bringing everything up to code, switching out old fixtures for new, pulling cable and getting outside lights to work properly, removing track lighting to be re-used suspended from the ceiling in the art gallery... and much more. There is still a great deal of electrical to do, especially once the theatre lights arrive... hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday of this next week.
Theatre lights are ordered. $$$$$$$$$!!! Yeah, it's that expensive to open a theatre. Would I have done this had I known how expensive it would be? Hmmmm.... probably so.
And the floor! Oh, that terrazzo floor! Will it ever end?
Now to see if someone has done his homework on the seating platforms!
Inspectors are waiting in the wings to make sure I've corrected all the code violations. I need to set up the final inspection, but I'm trying to make sure I have as much of the required work done as possible. The checklist is getting smaller and smaller. Soon, very soon.... I hope!
Met with the Business Improvement District again on Friday. They're thrilled to see the progress and want IS to participate in the West Allis A La Carte event on June 1st. Comparing calendars, it appears we may be able to plug in to several of the city events over the course of the year. Looking forward.... always.
I keep asking people to pray that I don't have a heart attack until AFTER March 1st. I hope they're praying HARD!
While waiting for other things to get started (mostly electrical), I figured we could tackle the carpet removal. My plan was to install wood panels (crude, rudimentary panels for painting the performance area). Once we started removing the carpet on Feb 10, we realized there was a terrazzo floor underneath. After removing carpet from half the room, a bit of elbow grease helped us to remove quite a bit of the sticky residue to see the shine of the original flooring. I don't think we'll be laying down wood floor anytime soon.
The theatre folks will have to work around a beautiful terrazzo floor! -Erico
The gallery walls are made of poured concrete, requiring some system for hanging art. After many conversations with artists and friends (and an architect!) about different hanging systems (mostly suspensions from the ceiling), I decided my best option was to place wood panels on those concrete walls. Different shapes and sizes provide an architectural feature to what were otherwise flat walls. It will be interesting to see how they get used.
Tom Zuelke helped start the installation process and Michael Kautzer installed the final pieces.
In this photo, the primer coat of white is being applied. They will be finished within a day or so. -Erico
Lots of progress was made this past week throughout the building. The basement green room was cleared and painted, doors were hung throughout the building, holes were patched and painted. We're so close to being done.. I can almost taste it. Hopefully you've looked at the photos on the gallery page to see the many people who have been gracious to help out over the past few weeks. It's been great!
This week we finally got to the point of installing panels on the concrete wall. After consulting with several people whose opinion I trust (Renee, Todd, Mark, Tim, Tom...others), I decided the best course of action was to install panels on the concrete walls. They will be painted white (which is always changeable for a specific show) and provide a bit of architectural detail throughout the gallery space. Hopefully they'll function as well as I anticipate. They were NOT an easy installation. In fact, we've only got about half of them installed.
On a VERY positive note............I've known from the start that West Allis officials were on my side, that they want this to happen as much as I do. My belief was confirmed on Thursday when I received a call from my architect explaining the great conversation that was had with the building inspectors who made several concessions regarding what will and what will not be allowed as far as any remodel of the building. A bit less cost will be involved because the buildling is being transitioned (level 3 classification) from business to business. This means there is no major structural change being made to the building (no walls coming down, no additions, etc.). As such, the code requirements that were in place with the last remodel remain intact, requiring no upgrade to meet new standards that would kick in if I were to make any structural changes to the building. This is good news, but also brings some bad news: I can't remove the plaster ceiling in order to tuck theatre lights into the joists----THAT would be considered a different type of remodel and would kick in all sorts of other regulations and required upgrades! So...next step...purchase the theatre lights and gallery lighting and get an electrician to install appropriate electrical wiring before we patch up all the holes that were cased by the dropped ceiling I removed. This is the major step I've been waiting for. Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunel. Whew! -Erico
What a productive day it was! So many people showed up today to lend a hand and we accomplished quite a lot!
Alcove painted black...CHECK!
Holes patched and mudded...CHECK!
West wall painted black....CHECK!
Kitchen wall patched and mudded...CHECK!
Basement doors placed on hinges...CHECK!
Prop Room cleaned...CHECK!
Costume Room cleaned...CHECK!
Green Room cleaned and FINALLY emptied of that old sofa and other large debris...CHECK!
Paint mixed for Green Room...CHECK!
Green Room partially painted with color walls all identified.... YES!
Thanks to all who volunteered their time and energy, moving and lifting, destroying and removing: Elizabeth, Derek, Norma, Rita, Jose, JudyLee, Adrian, Pasqual, Caroline, Jessie, Alexis.
And George Webb chili and burgers for all... (burp)
And we even managed to squeeze in a play reading/rehearsal for our Feb 14 One Act Workshop! Wow! What a day! Thanks, everyone! We're so close!!!!
Tomorrow I meet with the architect who has agreed to take on the design plans to ensure we meet city and state codes.
And now the real journey begins...
People will step through the doors of our Tardis on March 1st
and will enter a new phase in the history of the Village Playhouse.
They will encounter new life in this beautiful, old building,
seeing first hand the transformation that will give this place
a new reason to exist.
Erico Ortiz was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico and was raised in Milwaukee. He earned his undergraduate degree at Marquette University (Spanish Education) and a Masters Degree from UW-Milwaukee (Administrative Leadership). After working for Milwaukee Public Schools (teacher, administrator) for 33 years, it was time for retirement and a new direction.