Art of the City
As part of transformative development initiatives and rapid-recovery tourism efforts to attract more visitors to downtown, the city of Holyoke, in collaboration with the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and Print Shop Inc., will open the Artery, an art store and gallery at 289 High St., this month. It will run throughout 2023 and feature original and remade works crafted by a diverse array of regional talent. A grand-opening event is planned for Friday, Oct. 14.
“We are excited to see this project coming together,” said Aaron Vega, director of the Office and Planning Economic Development. “Our focus on tourism is supporting the economic development and future of the city. We are excited to invite people to visit the Artery and see for themselves the exciting things happening downtown.”
The Artery will be an assorted marketplace curating an eclectic mix of original and remade works of art and artisan products from creative makers from Holyoke and Western Mass. Shoppers will find unique, handcrafted, upcycled, and refinished pieces across a wide variety of disciplines and range of prices, including one-of-a-kind paintings and sculpture. The space will regularly feature local and visiting artists, hold openings and community events, and offer programming, workshops, and activities. Also functioning as an ad hoc tourism office, the Artery will promote and direct patrons to the other stores, galleries, studios, restaurants, and interesting spaces that can be visited while in the area.
The Artery will be adjacent to Cravo, a bustling restaurant, food truck, and catering business known for its fresh approach to hybrid cuisine. Owner and Head Chef Nicole Ortiz is excited to have a new neighbor, saying, “we’re elated to have this new art and culture hub right next door to our brick and mortar. This is something that downtown Holyoke has desperately needed for so long. We look forward to partnering with the space in any way possible.”
This project has been initially funded by a Massachusetts Regional Economic Development Organization grant managed by the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. Organizers continue to seek additional grant funding and sponsorships for startup and operating expenses. Working with Arrow Properties Inc., organizers have secured the location for six months with plans to renew as earned revenue and additional funding allows.
The Artery will be managed by Print Shop Inc., a Holyoke nonprofit running the DIY makerspace and classroom at 62 Main St. As the city’s former Creative Economy Industries coordinator, Print Shop Executive Director Jeffrey Bianchine has layers of experience popping up vendor fairs and retail storefronts in downtown Holyoke since 2013. Many of the maker members producing some of their work at the Print Shop will be featured in the Artery. The nonprofit has also incorporated into its mission an involvement with civic event organizing, placemaking, and tactical urbanism activities to spur transformative development.
“We are thrilled to be helping with this. Arrow Properties has been great getting the space ready, and there is plenty of time to get the word out there for the holidays this year,” said Bianchine, citing the rushed and short nature of pop-ups in the past. “I am looking forward to making this one stick.”