These artists have transformed their suburban studio into a bold creative space

Home » Uncategorized » These artists have transformed their suburban studio into a bold creative space

12 July 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In a complex of creative studios in West Auckland, two artists have found a balanced composition. The open the doors to their bold new space.

“I do love interior design,” says Auckland artist Cruz Jimenez. “Like in art, there’s the elements of balance and composition and colour.”

Kate Rutecki sitting on a green velvet couch with Cruz Jiminez standing behind
Cruz and Kate share a studio space in an artistic development in Auckland that has become a place to both create and display their work. IMAGE VIA HELEN BANKERS

Cruz has recently moved into a shared studio space with multimedia artist Katherine (Kate) Rutecki, where they have applied the same aesthetic principles for a workspace that’s stylish enough to be in a gallery. In Henderson, it’s one of several creative studios offered by an art-collector landlord. “She has a personal relationship with the artists,” says Kate. “She’s very kind and thoughtful.”

Three paintings hanging on the wall with green velvet chair below

Cruz and Kate, who hail from the west and east coasts of the United States, respectively, had been acquaintances in New Zealand for many years when they decided to share the creative zone.

Candle stick and art pieces on a vintage truck
Kate and Cruz’s past creations can be found around the studio, including in the library space. IMAGE VIA HELEN BANKERS

Before they moved into the space, the landlord renovated it with their help – their first chance to work together creatively. The artists chose this studio in particular because the front space has natural light shining through old-fashioned windows of polished brass and painted black enamel. It opens onto a spot they call the “library”, which is decorated with Cruz and Kate’s art books and objects. “We’ve got it set up like a little bourgeois sitting area,” Cruz says.

This leads to a moody kitchen and bar space that contains every functional item Cruz and Kate need to cater for an art opening. The counter is made from black porcelain that has been smoothed over to feel like leather. The area is styled with Cruz’s French antique furniture and curiosities and collectables.

Kate Rutecki's black candle stick sitting on the island of and all black kitchen

Kate assisted Stephen Bradbourne and Isaac Katzoff of the neighbouring Monmouth Glass Studio in creating a showpiece divider between the artists’ workspaces, with squares of blown glass that were framed by steel engineers. “One of the reasons I wanted to move here was because I love their energy with the glass-blowing factory,” says Cruz, who was a glass artist earlier in his career.

Small powder room with black marble wall and painted orange wall
The artists went for a slick, dark kitchen area and powder room, which look the part when hosting viewings. IMAGE VIA HELEN BANKERS

Cruz’s focus now is paintings of paradise found, and a large rack system in the viewing area displays his finished artworks. Beyond this is the rear studio, where four expansive skylights have been installed. The space is big enough that Cruz can step back and look at the shining vistas he creates in year-round natural light.

Close up image of tray filled with tubes of paint

Being newly renovated, the space is temperature-controlled and clean – important elements to Cruz, who is a self-confessed neat freak. “The space has allowed me to be extremely organised,” he says. “I’m working a lot slower and not so frantic. It’s just a comfortable space to be in.”

Cruz Jimenez sitting on a chair in front of his artwork
Cruz’s large and well-lit back studio inspires the right mindset for painting. “I get very excited when I’m driving to work,” he says. “It’s just beautiful surroundings.” IMAGE VIA HELEN BANKERS

Cruz has just opened his first exhibition under new representation at the Scott Lawrie Gallery in Grey Lynn. It’s called Candide, after the protagonist (and paragon of virtue) in Voltaire’s novella of the same name. The oil and wax paintings of utopia are inspired by New Zealand nature, and the theme of rebirth runs through the canvasses.

Both Cruz and Kate are green-fingered, and they have gathered indoor plants, including a bird’s nest fern, a ficus, a monstera and orchids, and florist Georgie Malyon (Haven’s Blooms columnist) has contributed a wispy dried floral arrangement.

Kate Rutecki sitting on a stool in front of black painting

As a multidisciplinary artist, Kate has divided her side of the studio space into several workbenches, including for ceramics and wax and mould making, and she hopes to add a kiln soon. “I am constantly working on many different things,” she says. “I’m just really enjoying it.”

Kate Rutecki in the studio working on her Ghastly Studios candleabra

Her speciality is using lost-wax cast glass and metals in sculptural works that explore our defences and boundaries. She has been thinking more about domesticity since the Covid lockdowns, and is currently creating “big, sexy candelabras” under the Ghastly Studios label with friend Katrina Kerr, as well as making sculptural candlesticks.

White candelabras by Ghastly Studios in all black kitchen
Kate’s Ghastly Studios candelabras and other creations are on a rotating display. In her studio, she works with cast glass, metals and any other materials that suit.
“Every work is a singular piece,” she says. IMAGE VIA HELEN BANKERS

Cruz and Kate have been in the space for only six months, but they already have a strong working relationship – convening in the morning to talk over concepts before creating separately in companionable silence. During Haven’s interview, they answer questions together. “I feel it’s really easy to talk to Cruz about ideas,” says Kate, to which Cruz adds, “Kate brings a really good vibe to the studio.”

Black painting hangs next to wooden chair and pink bubble artwork

At the end of the day, they enjoy a tipple at their bar, and at the end of the week, they often have drinks with their artist neighbours. Although Cruz and Kate’s shiny new space has become a meeting place, a pool table was recently installed next door, so they think the next drinks will be around this.

White storage cupboard with art pinned to it and a pot with dried floral arrangement placed on top

After bouncing ideas off one another, Cruz has been inspired by Kate to take up sculpture, and they are collaborating on new works, which are still in the sketching stage. Given the space they have created together, the project is bound to be the perfect balance of composition and colour.

Subscribe & WIN!

Subscribe to WOMAN+ for only $19.99 for the year and you’ll have a chance to WIN 2 Nights for 2 at JetPark Rotorua +
an Evening in the Polynesian Spa.

*You can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.