SOUTHINGTON - Chamber of Commerce officials last week welcomed Art Studio of Connecticut, a space for artists to create, learn and display their works.
The studio, at 1850 West Street, has art on every wall, from oil paintings to “trash critters” made by studio manager Stephanie Hongo from recyclable materials.
Owner Dawn Toce said she began construction on the facility in January after seeing a need in the community.
“My husband is the owner of Air Temp Mechanical Services and a board member at the YMCA and I’ve been bringing my kids to the Y and to Camp Sloper for a while now,” said Toce. “I’ve come to know Southington as a tight-knit community but I didn’t see anything like the business we have here. So I began to develop a plan for a place that is part gallery.
“That way, if someone is looking for a piece, they can buy something made by a local artist rather than getting gypped buying online at something like Etsy. It is also a creative outlet where, say, a mother of three could bring their kids for a fun, affordable day of painting and creativity. Or, people could also come to us for birthday parties, a Ladies Night or a date night. It’s a fun way to discover your creative side, all while receiving step by step instruction from our staff of seven artists. I’ve had people come in who are so surprised at what they are able to create.”
“When I was last here, this place was empty and Dawn was telling me about her idea,” said Taylor Crofton, executive director of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, prior to a ribbon cutting. “When I walked in today I gasped at how much has been done in such a short period of time. We’re thrilled to have you here.”
Town Councilor and chamber board member Dawn Miceli thanked Toce for her and her husband’s commitment to Southington and wished both of them success. She also thanked Toce for stopping in to Southington Community Cultural Arts and reaching out to local artists.
Since opening last week, Toce said, that she has received a “fantastic” reception from the community.
“Our ‘paint your pet’ program has been very popular,” she said. “People can submit pictures of their pets a few days in advance and our artists will make sketches. Then they can meet with our artists and they will paint them step by step.”
Toce said she plans to host an “Artist Inclusivity Night Social” on the last Tuesday of each month - a free event to which local artists will be invited to come to the studio, meet fellow artists and put their pieces on display.
Art Studio of Connecticut will also host a “Coffee and Canvas” event from 9:30 to 11:30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and “paint and sip” nights at which people can bring their own drinks and all art materials will be provided along with complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
The studio will also have a Farm Art program this May, June and July at Bradley Mountain Farms. The studio carries some of the farm’s goat milk soaps.
If things continue to go well at the studio, Toce said, she ultimately hopes to expand and have multiple studio locations throughout the state.
For more information on Art Studio of Connecticut, call 860-426-1188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ctartstudio.com.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com