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The Icebox Cometh, part two


Libby told you about Valsalva Maneuver at the Ice Box in the Crane Art Center building in her post.

I saw the croquet theme exhibit last week and also liked it. Then, as a bonus, I got a tour of the rest of the huge complex — the four-story Crane plumbing warehouse on American St. — which will open in the fall with artists’ studios, more gallery space and performance space. (top image is Ice Box with crane painted on it. The four story Crane building is adjoining. I love how the huge warehouse is dwarfed by the much smaller Ice Box in this shot)


Richard Hricko and Nicholas Kripal, two of the three owners and both artists and Tyler professors, took me around (a third owner, David Gleeson wasn’t there). They explained their plans for the Crane in a way that suggested they were still pinching themselves to see whether their good luck at finding and getting the American St. complex wasn’t all a dream. (image is floor plan for second floor artists’ studios).

Apparently they’d been looking for a building for some time and when their third business partner, Gleeson, found Crane, they made an offer, held their breath while a few competing offers came in, and wound up getting the building.

It’s hard not to be wildly enthusiastic so I’m not even going to try to contain myself.

The building is amazing. It’s the old Crane Plumbing warehouse, a 4-story affair designed by a local inventor/designer named Ballinger who believed in cast concrete.

The place has concrete floors and support pillars that are still in great shape and thus it’s structurally sound and as fire rated as the day it was opened. The windows need replacing and that will happen, Hricko said. Right now, they’re framing the space for the artists’ studios and you can see the potential. The studios, which are spoken for already, rent for 50 cents per square foot with spaces ranging from 290 sq. ft. to 2,280 sq. ft. according to the floor plan I saw.


There are two freight elevators, one in the front and one in the back of the wedge-shaped building. Owners after Crane, who were in the fish business, added on the Ice Box as a fish freezer. The refrigeration units have been removed and what’s left is a glorious, 5,000 square foot space with 25 ft. tall ceiling and no support columns.

It’s a pristine box and an inspiring project space. I can imagine any of a number of local artists going crazy there and coming out with exciting installations. Hricko and Kripal are accepting proposals for the Ice Box. Email yours to

The property also includes another out building, a carriage house which stored carriages downstairs and horses on the second floor. (image above is carriage house seen from the fourth floor of Crane) Hricko said they hope to turn the carriage house into performance space as well.

I’ll quit here saying stay tuned for more images and information as we get closer to the Center’s opening in the fall sometime around the Fringe Festival. (We may see a Fringe performance in the Crane)

Meanwhile, above right is an installation shot of the Valsalva exhibit in the Ice Box. You can get a sense of the big box space from the shot.


And finally, because I found a direct connection with it, here’s an image of the floating landscape piece by Katie McCory, Leslie Mutchler, Samantha Coles, Jennifer McTague and Michael Dur.

Libby and I once fashioned a papier mache floating still life which hung for a month in the Uarts Window on Broad. The piece no longer exists but the concept of floating the world of objects is one I still love.