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Pair of photographers ask community for help to launch Paddock Arcade studio

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Two ambitious photographers have hauled out 3.5 tons of junk from a second-story room in the Paddock Arcade since September, with the mission of transforming the space into a photography studio.

Now, Christopher G. Bova and Sara A. Hendrix are asking the community to help pay for construction costs to launch Photo Studio 16, which they intend to make a hub for photographers, models and makeup artists to practice their trades.

They’ve launched a fundraising campaign on the website Kickstarter seeking pledges to raise $7,500. On Friday night, the website — which can be accessed at http://wdt.me/W3t4kp — showed that $1,035 had been contributed by 12 people. The full amount of $7,500 will need to be raised by 9:17 p.m. Nov. 28, however, for pledged funds to be claimed for the project, according to campaign terms. If that goal isn’t met by the deadline, pledges will be canceled and donors will keep their money.

The project will cost at least $15,000, said Mr. Bova, 34, a graphic artist at Bernier, Carr & Associates of Watertown. The $7,500 would cover the cost of building materials for a pine plank floor, three partial walls and a storage closet at the 960-square-foot studio. Paint will be stripped from the tin and copper ceiling to restore its original character.

“We want to get the news out about this to anyone in the community who’s interested in the arts,” Mr. Bova said. “Our community is starving for a studio like this. We will still move on with the project if the funds aren’t raised, but it would take us much longer to finish” on our own.

Mr. Bova and Mrs. Hendrix plan to operate the studio as a private, for-profit business, charging photographers and artists for use of the facility. Donors from the Kickstater campaign will receive recognition based on the amount of their contribution.

Open house nights for artists have already been hosted monthly over the past year at Studio 14 on the second floor of the Arcade, where Mr. Bova and Mrs. Hendrix manage independent photography businesses. Artists pay $20 to participate in those events, and have come from as far as Syracuse, Utica and Gouverneur. It became clear that more room was needed as groups of over 40 people began to attend.

“When you have a model, lights, and two to three photographers, it takes up a lot of space, and we want to host workshops with demonstrations for groups of people,” said Mrs. Hendrix, 44. She owned a photography studio in Appleton, Wis., before relocating in 2011 to the north country, where her husband, James P., is a soldier at Fort Drum.

Much work has been accomplished in the future studio during the past two months, Mr. Bova said. The installation of three windows overlooking the Arcade’s roof filters soft natural light into the room. The brick walls and panel floors will create a classic feel at the studio, he said, which will include space for several photography sets. The studio will be filled with an array of different lighting and props for artists that will enable them to practice by experimentation.

Though the space still is in derelict shape, its condition was perfect for a Halloween-themed studio night in early October. Models came dressed in costumes, and sets featured a Gothic theme.

“These are hands-on events for artists,” Mr. Bova said. “We start at 6 p.m. and go until 11 or midnight.”

The space was leased by Mr. Bova and Mrs. Hendrix in September from the investment group Watertown RX LLC.

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