Arts and the sciences collide in a beautiful way in Huntsville, Alabama. There are two iconic structures that will greet you when you arrive. The first, a 36 story replica of the Saturn V moon rocket that first took humans into space, and the second, a water tower that lights at night and marks the spot of the nation’s largest private arts facility—-Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment.
We had the opportunity to chat with Dustin Timbrook, Lowe Mill’s Artist and Media Director, about why visitors should make time for Lowe Mill during their trip to the Rocket City.
Check out what he has to say and why the future is incredibly bright for this former textile mill turned artist colony.
(Q) If you had to pick one thing happening in the near future at Lowe Mill that you are most excited about, what is it and why?
(A) I’m always excited about what’s happening at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, but in the upcoming year I have more to be excited about than ever. As many have recently learned, our already massive arts facility is in the process of growing by thirty percent due to our expansion into the north wing of the building. During the past years my professional goal has simply been to make Lowe Mill popular in Huntsville, but with this new growth we believe it’s finally time to market our facility as a national destination.
(Q) What’s one fact you don’t think many people realize about Lowe Mill?
(A) The one fact about Lowe Mill that I want people to know is that we are literally the biggest private arts facility in America. I think that Huntsville locals often don’t realize how unique, rare, and impressive this place is simply because it is part of their day-to-day life. Often when something is in our own back yard we naturally assume that everyone else’s yard has the same thing. Let’s be clear though that this is not the case with Lowe Mill. No other American city has a private arts facility with as much working studio space, as many galleries, or as many professional artists as Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. Huntsville is incredibly special in this regard.
(Q) Talk to us a little about Lowe Mill’s history. How did it become what it is today?
(A) Lowe Mill was originally a textile mill around the turn of the century and was re-purposed as a shoe factory by General Shoe Company starting at the end of World War II. The mill eventually became a major supplier of combat boots during the Vietnam War. The ‘ARTS & Entertainment’ business of Lowe Mill came into being when Jim Hudson, founder of Research Genetics, decided to convert the building into visitor-friendly private studio spaces based on the popular Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Growth of our arts facility was slow-going at first, but with the vision and investment of the Hudson’s and a lot of hard work from our artistic community, Lowe Mill has blossomed into something I think outsiders could have never predicted. We are a community-focused for-profit business with incredibly affordable rent for artists, a creative culture that encourages and thrives on local and handmade work, and cultural and educational events designed to appeal to people from every walk of life.
(Q) Give us a pro-tip. What’s the biggest thing that visitors should know about visiting Lowe Mill?
(A) My one pro tip for visitors to Lowe Mill is simple; Engage with our artists! The purpose of this place is for you, the public, to learn about art, media, and craft directly from the professionals who have dedicated their lives to it. We have huge windows in every studio for you to view what our artists are making, but if a studio door is open I promise that artist would rather have you come in and see his or her work up close. You just might discover your next art purchase still sitting on the paint easel. Talk to us!
Dustin Timbrook is a local artist and the Media Director for Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. Originally from Montgomery and having received his Bachelors in Fine Art from University of Montevallo, Dustin soon discovered his creative home in Huntsville after moving to the city to teach high school art in 2008. Unsatisfied with teaching, the artist took up studio space during the critical opening of Lowe Mill’s redeveloped 3rd floor. Since that time Dustin’s professional and creative relationship with Lowe Mill has grown in parallel to the evolution of the arts facility.