Once in the early 20th century a custom tool shop for manufactured specialty automotive parts, license plates, and steel containers, Norton Factory studios and its community of artists is among those pioneers breathing new life and purpose for historic, vacant warehouses in East Oakland. Perhaps a more intimate setting than other nearby studio buildings like Faultline and Cotton Mill Studios, Norton Factory houses 18 lock-and-key private studios. This month’s East Bay Open Studios afforded people a chance to visit this space not usually open to the public.
Immediately upon entering the space, large photographs of the factory from 1920s to the 1940s line the walls before emerging into the common areas that currently house a petanque/bocce/boule lawn. The studio warehouse fulfills the delicate balance of renovation and contemporary needs while respecting its place in Oakland’s architectural and social history.
Artists residing at the space include Lara Hoke, Joevic Yeban, Lisa Pfeiffer, Jess Wainer, Anthony May, Howie Katz, Heather Day, Katherine Meyer, Mary Going, Janet Bartlett Goodman, and Kelly DeFayette.