September 14, 2022

Princeton Makes Marks Successful Year With Celebration of Art, Music, and More

ARTFUL ANNIVERSARY: Painter Claude Winn is among those who have a studio at Princeton Makes artist cooperative in the Princeton Shopping Center, which is celebrating its first anniversary on Sunday, September 18.

By Anne Levin

When Jim Levine decided to transform a 5,000-square-foot former sports store in the Princeton Shopping Center into an artists’ cooperative last September, he was hoping to foster a community of creative people working in a variety of genres — painting, sculpting, drawing, ceramics, and his personal specialty, stained glass.

“Part of the impetus was to get the glass-making out of my own house,” he admitted this week during preparations for the first anniversary celebration of the cooperative, known as Princeton Makes. “But my expectation, really, was around building a community of artists. And that has absolutely happened. We started with 23 artists in 10 studios. Today, we have 35 in 16 studios. It’s been great.”

The party is this Sunday, from 12-4 p.m. There will be numerous art-related activities for adults and children. Artists will be at work in their studios. Face-painting, henna hand-painting, live music, and food from WildFlour Gluten Free Kitchen and LiLLPiES Bakery will be available.

Among the artists who will be on hand is Claude Winn, who does large-format, abstract painting and has a studio at Princeton Makes. “It has been brilliant for me,” she said. “I actually moved to Princeton just before this was started, and desperately needed a new studio because I lost the one I had in my home. It was a wonderful coincidence that this became available.”

In addition to studio space, Winn has room for storage. Most significantly, she has become part of a community. “I come here often, almost every day,” she said. “Artists tend to be pretty isolated, working solo in our homes. I actually wasn’t sure how it would be to work around other people, because I like the solitude. But there is an alchemy that happens when people are working together in a space. We rub off on each other and learn from each other.”

Levine, a retired human resources manager with Church & Dwight, served as a board member, board president, and interim executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton before starting Princeton Makes. He enjoys spending time among artists and listening as they connect.

“I’m sitting in my studio one day, and I hear people having lunch together in the back,” he said. “Six months ago, they didn’t know each other. Now, they’ve made friends. They go out together after hours.”

The cooperative includes artists with a range of experience. For those with less, “Just the joy of selling your works and knowing someone appreciates it enough to pay for it is so rewarding,” Levine said. “Sales are good enough, but they could always be better. I’m not sure people are yet embracing the idea of supporting local artists, but we’re working on that.”

Future plans for the cooperative include monthly artist talks, activities for children, and a coffee house, as well as solo exhibitions of members’ work. The existing Second Sunday Poetry Readings series will continue.

Levine is grateful to Princeton Shopping Center for their support over the past year. “The most important thing is that the artists, who spent a lot of time in solitary pursuit of their art, enjoy being part of a community,” he said. “And that’s what makes this so rewarding.”

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