After completing an eight-year quest to convert a dilapidated old carriage house into new museum in the Hill, artist Gregory “Krikko” Obbott is turning around and starting all over again—with the dilapidated old garage right next door.
Krikko recently opened his Hill Museum of Arts on West Street as a permanent home for his massive, minutely detailed pencil drawings of major metropolises. When he took over the building, formerly a carriage house, the sky was visible through huge holes in the roof. After eight years of labor and $450,000, the structure is now a shipshape little museum with gigantic drawings covering the walls.
Next door to the museum sits an old garage that’s now in the state the carriage house was eight years ago. The roof is caved in; debris fills the space below. In another few years, it may also be reborn, as the Hill Community Arts Space, housing art and animation programs for the Hill neighborhood.
Last week an all-ages group of about 40 people started working to make that vision come true. Neighborhood Housing Services’ Stephen Cremin-Endes coordinated volunteers from the Squash Haven afterschool program Squash Haven, Yale students, and Public Allies to haul trash out of the garage and fill up a 30-yard Dumpster.
It was a part of a Martin Luther King Day commemoration at Krikko’s museum. The Nigerian-born artist also led kids in a drawing exercise in the museum’s central chamber.
The Board of Alders has approved selling Kirkko the property next to his museum, 212 West St. The city took the property in 2012 in a tax foreclosure. Krikko plans to fix up the garage on the property and the house in front of it. He’d live in the house and create art and animation in the garage.
“We’re just about to close on it,” Krikko said. He offered a tour of the garage, which he said he thinks was an old repair shop. Inside, the walls are covered with graffiti, the sheet metal roof is coming down, and rubble covers the floor.
Krikko said he envisions computers and animation workstations, where neighborhood kids can bring his drawings to life, including the cars drawn on the city streets. “We’ll see what we can do to those cars to move,” Krikko said.
It will take about $300,000 to rehab the building, Krikko said. Neighborhood Housing Services has applied for a $500,000 grant to fund the endeavor.
Neighborhood Housing Services’ Daniella Beltran drew up some preliminary plans for what the animation studio might look like. Her drawings show a column-fronted building with access from the back of the museum as well as the front of the garage.
Neighborhood Housing Services’ Cremin-Endes said he became a Krikko fan two years ago when a friend invited him to check out the museum-in-progress. Cremin-Endes said he walked in, saw Krikko’s enormous drawings and said “oh, my goodness gracious.”
“Not often do you meet people at the top of their craft—a real master,” Cremin-Endes said.
When several organizations recently contacted Cremin-Endes looking to do volunteer work on Martin Luther King Day, Cremin-Endes organized them all to come clean out the garage.
At 10:30 a.m., Cremin-Endes laid out the day’s schedule for his army of volunteers.
Krikko spoke about the history of the museum and his drawing process.
Cremin-Endes then began quarterbacking the clean-up at the garage, setting people to raking and shoveling, hauling bricks, and packing the Dumpster.
Shalisa Suero, 11-years-old, said she is happy to help Cremin-Endes. “Steve is a really nice guy. I just like cleaning and helping.”
Meanwhile inside, kids in the Squash Haven after-school program began working on a Krikko-style drawing, based on one of Beltran’s images of what a the museum and the animation studio might look like together.
Cremin-Endes said the garage will need a complete overhaul. “It needs everything new. All we have is a shell.”
He said the garage rehab will take years, as the museum did. “If we can do it within five years, that’d be wonderful.”