Founded in 1992, by Karen Atkinson and Joe Luttrell. Side Street Projects began as a community fabrication shop and exhibition space located in the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica, California. The goal was to support artists who create work outside of the traditional gallery system.
In 1997 Sheila Dawson, the inventor of “The Woodworking Bus” passed her programmatic model onto us, expanding our mission to supporting artists of all ages. We continue to function under the original vision of a creative laboratory that balances hand and high technologies and acts of risk taking and responsibility to promote innovation in arts and education. Our scrappy versatile model allows us to quickly evolve to meet the needs of the community and the field. We often work as an innovator and a connective tissue supporting important movements including business support for artists, socially engaged art, and mobile programs.
Everything that we do encourages creative problem solving and self-reliance within a contemporary art context, which is reflected in our unusual operating model. After moving 6 times in 16 years Side Street Projects transformed into a completely mobile, self-sustaining community arts center in 2007. In 2010, our mobile facilities were recognized as the “most innovative artist space in the nation” by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) a collaboration including: MIT, NEA, the Ford Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation.