With the opening of a new art supply store and expanded workshops and gallery openings, the coming high season is going to be an exciting one for the St. John Artists’ Association.
Pirate’s Paradise Arts Supply, due to open in mid-November, will fill a need most artists on the island experience every time they try to paint — a lack of supplies, explained entrepreneur and artist Amanda Smith.
“I’m a painter and there was just no place for me to buy supplies,” said Smith, who is also taking over as AASJ’s gallery director this season. “I saw such a need to have more available here. We have so many artists and there really aren’t many supplies.”
The acrylic abstract artist enlisted the help of her boyfriend Ryan Gordon and his cousin Randy Hazelton to transform an unused space adjacent to AASJ’s new Lumberyard gallery into a retail venue.
“This used to be two small rooms and a hallway before,” Smith said, standing in the freshly-painted space. “We’ve been working on it since July and it’s really starting to come together now.”
The store is now one large room with bright white paint, slatted walls and lots of space waiting to be filled.
After navigating the business license maze which delayed progress on Pirate’s Paradise, Smith is ready to move forward and is hoping to get ideas about which products should line the newly-installed shelves.
“I want to have a large variety of supplies and I’m really still learning about all of these materials,” said Smith. “Requests are greatly appreciated and I can do special orders if anyone wants.”
The art supply store will stock a selection of brushes, paints, rolls of canvas and pre-stretched canvas as well as anything else requested, Smith explained.
“I really want to stock what people want,” she said. “Members have already been helping me by telling me what types of supplies they use. People have been giving me a lot of positive feedback and I’m excited to start getting supplies in.”
A grand opening party will be announced as soon as Smith has a better idea of when her stock will arrive on island, she added.
In her new position as AASJ gallery director, Smith plans to expand the group’s workshop offerings and increase revenue.
“I want to have some fundraisers so that we’re able to do more with our space here,” she said. “I really want to build studio space in the back and have a lot of different classes to offer the public and our members. I want to have classes for pottery, photography and jewelry making — I have a lot of ideas.”
Smith also hopes to increase the group’s membership by appealing to those who might not think of themselves as artists.
“I’d really like to get more people to come out and join the association,” said Smith. “You don’t have to be a professional artist to join. There are a lot of people out there with talent who don’t see it for themselves.”
The artist is speaking from experience. The one-time actress has never had formal art training.
“Painting has always been a hobby for me,” Smith said. “I’ve never taken a class or studied art in any way. For me art was just about color.”
“I would have these colors in my mind and I would just see it and paint it on the canvas,” she continued. “But I had so many canvases that they were taking up all the space in my home. I had to do something with them.”
Hobby Becomes Life
The New York transplant, who has lived on island since January, had her first gallery opening at AASJ in early August and now what was Smith’s hobby is a much bigger part of her life.
For other budding artists, the most important thing is to not be too hard on themselves, according to Smith.
“Don’t judge yourself,” she said. “It’s important to keep your channel open and just have fun. Every person is unique and there is no comparing one to another because everything is so different.”
AASJ’s first gallery opening of the season is scheduled for November 1. Smith plans to host special events on Thursday evenings throughout season and to announce workshop schedules shortly. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about Pirate’s Paradise or the AASJ gallery, call 774-2275 or email [email protected]