BY PAUL BICKLEY
Monique Cagle—painter, photographer, fabric artist, and jewelry maker—knew it was time to find a dedicated studio space when her work started taking over her house.
A lifetime resident of rural Brown County, Cagle first considered converting one of her barns into a studio or building something new from the ground up. Then she spotted repurposed grain bins on social media—bed and breakfasts, offices, playhouses. Cagle already had a grain bin, and the idea appealed to her.
“I liked the idea of a grain-bin studio,” Cagle, 52, says. “It was unusual. The bin was sturdy and sat on a concrete slab, and I liked its roundness and space.” Wider and shorter than many grain bins, Cagle’s bin was 28 feet in diameter and 12 feet tall.
The fact that she and her husband, Eric Shawver, didn’t have the money to entirely fund the $20,000 project wasn’t a huge deterrent. Cagle was used to marketing her artwork and thought she could use social media to help fund the studio project. She was right. Her GoFundMe campaign brought in $7,000; Brown County artists donated materials and an additional $2,000. Sleepy Cat Studio was completed in summer 2017.
The studio boasts interior drywall, a heating and cooling system, front and back glass-panel doors, four windows, and an acrylic dome skylight. There are three work spaces, a closet, and an area with a couch for socializing and relaxing. “The studio has a certain amount of charm,” Cagle says. “I think we nailed it.”
As a landscape painter, Cagle has won three first-place awards at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site PaintOut. “The world gets scary,” she says. “It’s nice to paint safe, happy spaces.” She also makes stuffed toys. “Painting is intuitive; sewing presents engineering challenges. My mind needs different arts,” she says. “I’m always thinking about doing more, like stained glass and mosaics. But I would need another studio!”
Sleepy Cat Studio will, for the second year, be a stop on the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour, October 1–31.
For more information on Cagle’s studio, visit sleepycatstudio.com. For more on the tour, visit blog.browncountystudiotour.com.