Ingrid Aspromatis, center, leads a writing workshop at the WomanKraft Art Center, 388 S. Stone Ave. on Feb. 16, 2018. The center is a non-profit organization that helps to empower female artists.

They call it the castle.

The 100-year-old Queen Anne Victorian on South Stone Avenue features an art gallery, school of art, studios (one of which is an all-natural hair and body salon) and performance space in 10,000 square feet.

Gorgeous wooden floors, natural light, narrow hallways and even a turret beckon you to explore. 

Exterior of the WomanKraft Art Center located at 388 S. Stone Ave. on Feb. 16, 2018.

The castle is owned by WomanKraft Art Center, a nonprofit arts organization that caters to women artists and other under-represented groups. 

"It was founded by seven local women artists in 1974," said Grace Rhyne, executive director. "They were sick of having small representation in other galleries for women artists and they wanted a space where they could feel like it was theirs to share."

Things haven't changed much since then, as far as women being adequately represented in the art world. 

"As women artists, we receive half of the MFAs that are awarded and we still claim like 30 percent of wall space in galleries and less than four percent in museums," said Zoe Rhyne, director of exhibits and Grace's sister. 

Though WomanKraft literally means "woman power" (kraft is German for power), men are encouraged to submit art for display, volunteer or look around. 

"My boyfriend, Josh, is also very involved," Zoe said. "He docents with us once a week. He's a board member and our metal worker. So contrary to popular belief, it's not a woman-only organization. I refuse to be apologetic that our name is WomanKraft. A lot of people are like, 'That keeps men away' and I'm like, 'If a man is intimidated of a place with woman in the title, they probably don't belong here.' In my mind, it's a filter ... Our mission statement is non-discrimination. That's what we're about so it's very cool to be a part of something like that."

School of art

Gayle Swanbeck works on her collage at the WomanKraft Art Center, 388 S. Stone Ave. on Feb. 16, 2018. The center is a non-profit organization that helps to empower female artists.

Part of the draw of WomanKraft is its school of art where small classes are taught on topics such as tie dye, dry felting, stained glass, embroidery, writing, painting and drawing.

All classes are $20, even if it's a two-day class. Supplies are included in that fee. 

Scholarships are available to low-income people age 50 and over for classes.

"It makes it free for them," Zoe said. "That's also a really big thing because the older population is a hugely under-served demographic as well. They have a lot of programs for children and very few for active adults, especially those on a restricted retirement budget. Art classes are notoriously expensive. The whole point here is that anybody should be able to come take a class, and I would rival our teachers with any art teachers around."


Artwork by Tony Di Angelis hangs in the gallery space at the WomanKraft Art Center, 388 S. Stone Ave. on Feb. 16, 2018.

Walking into the gallery this month, you'll see artworks in a variety of media that depict space, planets or galaxies in one way or another.

There are paintings, metal sculptures, painted glasses and functional art, like lamps. All genres of art are welcome here.

"I could never choose just one medium to use," Zoe said. "There needs to be a market for fine art, functional art and craft art."

Grace, also an artist, has work on display as well. Using vinyl records and album covers, she created planets with colorful interpretations of desert life. 

She says she's obsessed with the desert and can't quit drawing cacti so it made sense to create cactus planets. 

The gallery hosts new art shows every two months and has receptions on the first Saturday of each month where the community is invited to meet the artists, drink champagne and maybe even buy some art.

Local artists are invited to submit work for shows and can be in any medium as long as the pieces fit within the theme.

WomanKraft loves to work with emerging artists, Grace said.

"We are kind of a graduation spot from craft fair to gallery," Zoe added. "So people who have gone to Second Saturdays or art markets and want to explore a more official way to do it, we provide a professional atmosphere in a friendly way."

Gayle Swanbeck, left, and Zoe Rhyne work on their art projects at the WomanKraft Art Center, 388 S. Stone Ave. on Feb. 16, 2018. The center is a non-profit organization that helps to empower female artists.

Work must be physically brought into WomanKraft to be juried for upcoming shows. There is no fee to submit work or for wall space, but the gallery does keep 40 percent of sales if you're not a gallery member. 

Memberships cost $30 a year and gives you the chance to earn a higher percentage rate on sales and lower ticket sales on events.

"And it gives you the ability to say you're a supporting member of a local volunteer, woman-oriented, nonprofit arts organization," Zoe said. "It's an easy way to be an active member of the community no matter how physically active you can be .... $30 a year is not that much for a person, but when more than one person does that, it makes a huge difference for the organization."

Artists are responsible for pricing their work, but WomanKraft does cater toward a more affordable price range, Zoe said.

"Zoe and I are artists ourselves, and it's kind of been our personal mission to make art accessible to all ranges of people at a time," Grace said. "We want anybody to be able to walk in from the street and find something they love and take it home with them."

WomanKraft is located at 388 S. Stone Ave. Gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. To submit artwork, call Zoe at 629-9976, ext. 3. Click here for a listing of upcoming shows.

A fundraiser to benefit The Esparanza Dance Project, a local organization that aims to raise awareness about childhood sexual violence through multimedia performances at high schools, will be held at 2 p.m. March 10. Six pieces of choreography by emerging choreographers will be debuted. There is a suggested donation of $10 which will directly benefit the organization. 

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson