While the Artists Association of St. John has hosted a number of visiting artist workshops and classes since its inception five years ago, the group will soon be offering even more exciting experiences for island art buffs in its new location.
After three years on the second floor of The Marketplace, AASJ is relocating to the former Polli’s Restaurant location in the Lumberyard complex.
People who remember the old Mexican restaurant, however, will be surprised by the new look of Polli’s, explained AASJ gallery director Claire Wilkinson.
“Michael Weinman (Lumberyard owner) is doing all the renovations for us,” said Wilkinson. “He’s going to be painting the whole space white and the balcony as well. He’s moving doors for us and will be adding a window to bring more light into the area.”
More Workshops and Classes
The expanded space will allow the association to focus more on its community mission, Wilkinson explained.
“We’re really looking forward to the new space because, as a 501c3, we really need to address the other things we’re supposed to be doing as a non-profit like workshops and classes,” said Wilkinson. “We’d like to offer more teaching opportunities to the youth and have more social activities. We’ll be able to have more meetings and people will be able to get in touch and talk about each other’s work.”
AASJ membership will feel more like a cooperative than a club, Wilkinson added.
“It will be more of a cooperative-type of feeling rather than just being a gallery,” she said. “The gallery is just supposed to be one part of what we do, but we haven’t been able to do those other things because of the limited space here. In the new location, we’ll be able to offer all that we want.”
Space For Artists, Library and Gatherings
The new space will also allow the AASJ to expand its library and provide an area dedicated to reading and small social gatherings, Wilkinson explained.
“We plan to have artists working in there and we’ll have limited studio space for artists to rent on a monthly basis so they can keep all of their materials there in a nice, clean environment,” said the AASJ gallery director. “We’re going to combine our other work space also so we’ll have printing workshops too.”
AASJ officials hope to work in conjunction with local hotels as well, Wilkinson explained.
“We’d like to cooperate with hotels and resorts to coordinate activities to bring people down to stay in the hotels and participate in our workshops,” she said.
AASJ’s Marketplace home was ideal for the burgeoning group, but the association has now simply outgrown the space, according to Wilkinson.
“The Marketplace people have been wonderful but we’ve just really grown too big for the space,” she said.
Working with Weinman has been a pleasure for the group, added Wilkinson.
Feedback From Members
“Once the room in the Lumberyard opened up, Michael (Weinman) came to us and said that we should look at the space and that it’d be great for us,” said the AASJ gallery director. “He said he’d love for us to be there and would do whatever he could to help us out.”
While the move sounded great, the association didn’t take the plunge before asking its members, Wilkinson added.
“First we took the proposal to the board and they voted to move ahead and pursue the possibility of the move,” she said. “But because this affects everyone, we really felt that the whole membership should be involved in the decision-making process. So we polled the members and they were in favor of moving too.”
AASJ will be in its new location on May 1 and has already scheduled a workshop in the space. Dr. Namonyah Soipan, a psychologist and art therapist, will be conducting a couple’s workshop called “Shamanic Journey” on May 5 and 6.
To join the association or sign up for an upcoming workshop, call Wilkinson at 774-2275.