Art Barn

Photography: Julia Ogrydziak, Sharon Risedorph

Photography: Julia Ogrydziak, Sharon Risedorph


This 2,400-square-foot art studio is a folly built in a pre-existing steel-framed animal barn, is a synthesis of unusual functions that make sense in the Central Valley, a mecca for California artists and animal-lovers.


The two veterinarian owners of this 10-acre rural homestead wanted a painting studio and a place to store and exhibit their art collection. The decision was to carve it out of their 10,000-square-foot barn, converting a quarter of the area and raising it three feet above the dirt floor of the barn, leaving the remaining space to house animals and farming equipment. Regulations prohibit commercial space on rural property, so the space could not be conditioned.

The interior architecture exposes and accentuates the angled steel barn structure, and the size of the barn creates large walls for hanging art. The exterior wall juts out to capture a commanding 180-degree view of the Valley’s seemingly endless horizon line. The tall, wide window bay frames the meeting of sky and land, creating a living art piece – a tableau of daily and seasonal changes. Occasionally the pet pot-bellied pig wanders by on her way back to her barn-home – an integral part of the art scene.

Art Barn also serves as a large, public event space to entertain friends, artists, and fellow veterinarians, complementing the small, private house on the property.

Steel barns are ubiquitous, an integral part of the Central Valley vernacular landscape, linked to the region’s agricultural, farming history. These simple, large volumes offer a budget-conscious way to create oversized spaces — whether for raising animals, storing hay, or for creative pursuits — sometimes all housed in the same barn. This intervention is a re-purposing of a familiar form into a more complex set of functions — reflecting the needs and lives of the new settlers in the Valley.