When floral preservation artist Kelly Jean first walked into the Government Street storefront that was to become her new collaborative studio space, she was greeted by black walls, no air conditioning and more than a few bugs. Jean says all she saw was potential, though. And lots of it.
A regular at MJ’s Café for years, when a space opened next to the restaurant, Jean says it just felt like fate. She had been looking for a way to engage with her art form, other artists and members of the community in a greater way, and a dedicated place to bring all of that together was just what she was envisioning.
“I felt like I was having such a good time getting to know the local arts community at markets,” she explains. “But, then it would drop off after that. There wasn’t an easy way for everyone to stay connected and build those relationships.”
She signed the lease sight unseen and was in the impossibly hot space erasing every trace of its previous life as a smoke shop only a week later. But she wasn’t alone in her effort. In addition to the help of her husband, Jean brought fellow artist Lori Demand on board for the new venture.
“It literally took maybe two minutes of talking with Kelly for me to be all in,” Demand recalls. “This space gives us the opportunity to grow our markets and gives other artists the opportunity to take a chance on themselves and do the same.”
Dubbed Brush & Bloom Studios, the space is a collaborative hub that not only hosts local artists with quarterly rentals for small workspaces, but also allows the community to learn and engage with the different art forms through workshops and other events.
“We want to give people a taste of being in a creative space and having those other people around them to bounce ideas off of,” Jean says. “And, I always wanted a platform to help teach my art form, so other people can find that happiness and freedom that comes with being creative.”
Jean herself discovered her artistic passion through a floral pressing workshop in someone’s backyard in 2018. And, for Demand, her painting career is something that comes after owning a faux finishing business and also working as an engineer. For them, opening the doors to the space is opening up a new chapter of their creative careers while inviting others to do the same.
“The community here is so supportive,” Jean says. “But, imagine how much more powerful we can be—especially us female creatives—if we get together, get to know one another and work together.”
Brush & Bloom Studios will have its grand opening during White Light Night on November 17. However, follow along on social media for workshops that are taking place throughout the fall.