Steve Gibson building the Milton Academy of Art | News, Sports, Jobs

Steve Gibson wants to make art accessible to everyone. His latest venture, the Art Academy of Milton, is set to do just that.

Steve knew he wanted to turn his love of sculpting and special effects into a career as a young artist. His hometown of Maryland had few opportunities for special effects work, leaving Gibson bouncing between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, teaching himself professional video production and photography.

In 2008, he accepted a position at Bucknell University where he worked in internal communications and video. Her position at Bucknell was the catalyst for her love for the Susquehanna River Valley. His next step was to put down roots and start his own business, Creature Feature Designs. In his spare time, Steve longed for a space to practice his love of painting and drawing and that’s when his idea for a community arts center was born.

Located in Lewisburg, Arts Underground was the first attempt at a space that combined community and creativity, and it was well received within the local arts community. After a solid three-year run, Covid-19 shut down and Steve plunged back into his design work in the studio and spending time with his family. It was during an afternoon stroll through Milton with his daughter, Emily Gibson, that the idea for the Milton Academy of the Arts was born.

Steve says about the closure of Arts Underground, “I felt a void. Almost every artist I’ve spoken with over the past twelve years here in the region has always wanted access to a community of other like-minded artists to work and collaborate with, as well as a friendly place to offer courses.

Emily works for The Improved Milton Experience (TIME) and is always looking to attract new business to downtown Milton. She pointed out that the old Milton Eagles Lodge at 38 S. Front St. was up for sale. After a tour of space, her father was ready to embark on his next adventure. Steve rolled up his sleeves and immediately got to work. He assembled a core team to keep everything profitable and set up a GoFundMe for half the cost of much-needed electrical rewiring. Renovations began in April 2021 and they held their first open house on October 9, 2021.

“The community support has been wonderful,” Steve reveals. “People who knew the building from the days of the Fraternal Order of Eagles have been amazed at the transformation so far. I’m glad it’s quickly being recognized as one of the places that enhances downtown of Milton.

Gibson’s primary desire is to host courses of all types, offering “high-end artistic experiences at a low price.” Photography, space for video and film sets, drawing, music, painting, theatre, sculpture, comedy; basically, if you can dream it, you can create it at the academy. Versatile functionality is one of the things that gives Gibson the most pride. The first floor is available for rent as event space and there are also private studios for independent artists to rent.

Asked about his vision for the Academy for the next five years, Gibson offers, “It’s my dream to have concurrent classes, gallery shows, events and studio sessions any time of the day, spread across all four floors. I like the idea that the building can become a living, breathing thing, supported not only by the artists and the in-house students, but by the whole community.

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Mildred D. Field