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Shining On

Paper Moon Photo Studio opens in the Whit
An image from Snake Charmer by Melissa Mankins. Model: Lisa Sandow • costuming: Nobody’s Baby • snakes and animal handler: Zany Zoo pets

A new light is shining bright in the Whiteaker community. Paper Moon Photo Studio, a photo studio specializing in old-timey photography, is now collaborating with The Red Raven Follies performance troupe at the former OliveJuice space on Blair Boulevard. 

Paper Moon partners Claire Flint and Melissa Mankins took over the lease at the beginning of January and will be open to the public for the Jan. 25 Last Friday ArtWalk. The live photo booth, where people can pose on a crescent moon and outfit themselves from a costume box, will be open while the Follies will be performing new acts with an updated cast in the space.  

The new owners encourage everyone to bring photos or mementos of former OliveJuice owner, Brad Dale, who passed away last March from heart failure. Flint says there will be a standing memorial to him in the studio, complete with his favorite drink, “cheap champagne.” Dale’s partner, Aidan Holpuch, is relieved to know the space will be used again as a place of celebration and creativity. “It’s time to open it back up and breathe new life into it. I loved knowing I would see people at least once a month at the ArtWalk, and that we could support creativity. There is such a cohesiveness among the creative facets in this community, and it’s good to know that people will still be coming together there,” Holpuch says.

Flint was the first artist to show at OliveJuice, and it is fitting that she is now perpetuating the vision of the Blair storefront acting as a neighborhood hub. “All of our friends are here, it feeds us,” Flint says. “The activity here will be a part of the texture of the art scene.”  

Flint and Mankins are partners in every sense. The women seem to push each other on, even finishing each other’s sentences at the first official photo shoot in the studio, complete with snakes and a memorial champagne toast. The pair started the business last January, and after a year, they are committing to make it their sole occupations. “It’s propelling itself at this point,” Mankins says. She says their low overhead and pieced-together equipment adds to the old-timey aesthetic. The duo is currently working on a coffee-table book filled with timeless images of curiosities and vaudeville from the turn of the 20th century. “We do commercial stuff, but want to do creative. Foremost we want to make art.” 

The Red Raven Follies also embrace the old-timey aesthetic. Artistic Directors Ember Woodruff and Tiffany Hutchins believe their partnership with the studio will go swimmingly. “It’s a match made in heaven to work with Claire; she was my first photographer,” Woodruff says. The performance art troupe will practice there, construct props and stages, and hold their neo-burlesque shows regularly. In an effort to connect with more people, they invite anyone who would like to do a variety act to contact them. “We want to be seen as more of a community opportunity than a bar show,” Woodruff says.

The venue is slated to be a fixture of the Last Friday Artwalk with other events including themed photo shoots, live music and fiction readings by The StoneCutters Union — a local artistic literary collective.

Currently, there are no regular studio hours, but Flint says they will be posted soon. For more information, visit www.papermoonphotostudio.zenfolio.com

Paper Moon Photo Studio joins the Last Friday ArtWalk 6 pm Friday, Jan. 25, at 543 Blair Blvd. Entertainment provided by The Red Raven Follies and Mood Area 52.