Wednesday, October 20, 2021
It’s always exciting to see a new creative venture take shape. In Woonsocket, Monument Square Arts, a newly opened gallery, is a bright spot in the local cultural scene. Imagined by artist and art educator Kim Celona, the space is part of a traditional art gallery, a retail store and a sort of living room. Located in the heart of Woonsocket near other established cultural facilities, this burgeoning art business is a place to watch.
When asked to describe what Monument Square Arts is, Celona said, “I would say my mission at MSQA is all about creativity and connection. I want to value the community through the arts and collaborate with other artists and businesses through the gallery and its events.
Located in Two Monument Square, directly across from Woonsocket’s Stadium Theater’s bold neon marquee, Monument Square Arts is housed in a modest storefront space that features an interior full of character and history. The high tin ceilings contrast subtly with the cool white paneling. On the walls, Celona currently displays a mix of pieces, including some of her own richly layered paintings as well as evocative photographs of Laurie Maitem.
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At the back of the gallery, works of jewelry and textiles are also on display. Highlights include hand-sewn clothing created from recycled clothing by emerging designer Emma Joyce. Joyce’s work gives a second life to previously owned items like sweatshirts, sewing them together to create entirely new items.
Celona’s hybrid model, which is an unconventional mix of art gallery and art boutique, is just one of the ways she aims to create a new experience for visitors who might be sheepish at the idea of going to a gallery. Through this kind of singular space, the uninitiated might be enticed to explore their first art gallery, making Monument Square Arts a friendly entry point for newcomers. Beyond creating a format that blurs boundaries, Celona also seeks to connect with artists who are not yet established. Through her new space, she aims to defend artists and create new opportunities to share her work with a hitherto untapped audience.
Responding to what she hopes the public will take away from a visit to the gallery, Celona says: sorts; fashion in the fine arts. Plus, you are buying something made by local artisans with integrity, passion, and skill.
One of the main reasons to follow the developments of this newly inaugurated cultural venue is Celona herself. A longtime educator who studied at Parsons and NYU, she has an infectious enthusiasm for the work she’s taking on this new venture, which she is doing alongside her day job as an art teacher. Visiting the gallery one can immediately feel how thrilled Celona is, both with the possibilities in her own shop as well as in Woonsocket in general. With relatively low overhead costs, the city is ideally positioned to attract more creative businesses like Celona’s. More art-oriented businesses would liven up Woonsocket town center more.
On the list of artists, Celona hopes to work with younger individuals and those newer to exhibit. In a state where opportunities often go to longtime artists with long careers, a business owner who invests in new voices is someone worth celebrating.
Describing her feelings about starting this business in Rhode Island’s northernmost town, Celona says, “The people and community here turn me on, and their love and dedication to Woonsocket. The passion and pride in moving forward with revitalization projects, while maintaining the integrity of the story here, is amazing and inspiring. This is the perfect place and time to be a business in Woonsocket and I am happy and grateful to be here.
Being in Woonsocket, Celona’s space is outside the shadow of other cultural hubs in the state like Providence or Newport. Across from the Stadium Theater, the gallery also has Beacon Charter High School for the Arts as a neighbor. The famous Chan’s Restaurant, which has offered live jazz to generations of listeners, is right next door. The St. Ann’s Museum of Labor and Culture and the Arts and Culture Center are two other city landmarks, along with the non-profit organization RiverzEdge Arts. With the addition of a retail location like Monument Square Arts, Woonsocket has gained another valuable cultural attraction that over time is sure to attract art-seeking visitors from across the state and beyond.
Monument Square Arts is open to the public Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Celona is also available to open space by appointment. To find out more, go HERE.