Creative Artists’ Studio of Ames


Courtesy of Greg Lamont

Creative Artists’ Studio of Ames

Bailey Freestone

Creative Artists’ Studio of Ames was designed to get artists into a place where they are surrounded by other artists and have access to materials they need for their type of medium. 

CASA is an organization that allows local artists to freely express their creative side whenever they please.

CASA has been part of the Ames community for almost 14 years and moved into their location on South Sheldon Ave. in 2001. Before CASA began, the Octagon Center for the Arts was one of the only local studios that artists could go to practice their artwork. Unfortunately, the Octagon Center only offered classes, and artists were not able to rent space in the studio where the artists could come and go as they please. 

A group of artists thought of the idea to start their own studio in which they could rent out the space to other local artists.

At about the same time the artists came up with this idea, the Campus Baptist Church closed its doors for the last time and sold its property to the neighboring Methodist Church. The Methodist Church was only interested in the parking lot the two churches had previously shared and was not sure what to do with the extra building.

According to Greg Lamont, a member of CASA, and Iowa State University professor, Joel Geske, heard about the open space and called Lamont to tell him about what seemed like the perfect studio area. A few of the founding members of CASA looked at the church and proposed the idea of their organization to the church members.

“I think the church was pretty happy that we agreed to take this whole space,” Lamont said, referring to the church basement. “Because in their eyes this would have been the least desirable space for other tenants.”

After a few months the Methodist church had found a way to make CASA work in their new building, while still being a nonprofit organization. The first members of the CASA organization moved in on New Year’s Day in 2001 and the group of artists has been growing since then.

CASA has come a long way since it first opened its doors. The organization now has about 30 to 35 members on average and hosts gallery shows and studio tours throughout the year. CASA has also opened their doors to ISU students.

“We have a reduced fee for students for up to a year after graduation,” said Lee Anne Willson, a founding member of CASA. “And we often serve as a transitional studio space for people who have finished up their degree and need an affordable place to work.”

Another unique thing about CASA is that the members are in charge of every detail. The artists are in charge of taking care of their studios and the overall upkeep and maintenance of the space rented by the organization.

Unlike at other studios, each member is also responsible for organizing and putting together everything for classes they would like to teach or shows they would like to host. The organization does everything on their own and doesn’t have a single employee.

“Everything here is at the initiative of the artist,” said Willson.

All of CASA’s events are open to the public.

CASA always accepts new members, but there is an application and informal jurying process each applicant must go through. This is to make sure each artist knows enough about their medium to be safe while working in the studio.

For more information visit CASA’s website at