Art Studios of Grace

Art Studios of Grace got started in late 2015 or early 2016 as a way to use empty classroom space on the campus of Grace Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. The classrooms were part of the Early Years Learning Center, which had closed in 2008. Jay Winter Collins, a part-time teacher of gifted and talented children, and an illustrative artist was the first to utilize one of the classrooms as dedicated studio space, securing permission from Grace’s Session and their relatively new pastor Rev. Charles Freeman. 

Filling the additional classroom space was a gradual process. Two of the three other spaces were initially used as meeting places for two separate AA groups, but one disbanded in 2019 and that space was open.  A non-profit arts education program, the Wayfaring Painter, moved into the additional classroom space in February 2020 to host children’s art classes. Then COVID hit, and like most everything else, things changed.

The worship committee had been storing Christmas trees and worship supplies in the nursery school room that connected to Jay’s studio.   Jay inquired as to the possibility of opening that room for a studio space, and the session approved the proposal for another artist, Linda Zidonik, to use that space. Linda is a retired arts educator who primarily works with mosaics and alcohol inks. Link to video of Linda and her studio.

Post COVID, the AA groups decided to utilize the fellowship hall for their pared down meeting schedule, opening those spaces. An artist began using that space in September of 2021.  She moved out in January when she relocated to Arizona.  Christine Brundige, a watercolors artist, moved into the space in April 2022. Link to video of Christine in her studio.

<Christine photos and link>

The Wayfaring Painter non-profit morphed into Selva Art Studios with the same direction – they teach art to small groups of elementary students. Gia Gelvi also teaches printmaking classes with adults. Selva Art Studio website

Jay Winter Collins has been a long time member of Grace Presbyterian Church, and became a ruling elder in February 2020. She finds the Grace community to be very supportive of the artists. Another benefit is that the artist’s physical presence in the studios draws in people to the church property. Jay has gifted the church with the Angel Cartouche painting (first image in the gallery below) which hangs in Grace’s Fellowship Hall.  She provides matted prints that are kept in the Sanctuary narthex as gifts for visitors and members. She also plans to make it available as a free download on the church website. The painting in the center hangs in the sanctuary (it is a painted quilt design). In the word puzzle mosaic, see how many positive words you can find!

Jay also illustrated a children’s book, Rhoda the Alligator, the first of three stories to teach good manners, written by former senator Bob Graham. You can order the book from Amazon or other sources.

Jay Winter Collins website / Link to video of Jay in her studio / Link to a WUFT video of Jay and her work.

With these four artists settled into their studio spaces, the church and the artists are now promoting the Art Studios of Grace as a ministry of the church. Artists donate a fixed amount monthly to cover electric and maintenance. And they are also committed to doing something with the church. For example, an upcoming project will work with church members to design mosaic pavers for the church’s courtyard and garden. They have also set up an Art Studios of Grace Facebook page to increase their coordinated social media presence.

Art Studios of Grace also participates in Art Walk, which opens galleries, theaters and studios generally on the last Friday of the month. Art Walk participants are encouraged to visit the different venues for self-guided tours. Art Studios of Grace are also participating in The Gainesville Fine Arts Association (GFAA) Artist Studio Tour from July 15-17. GFAA Website / Artist Studio Tour Flyer

The Art Studios of Grace is a wonderful way for Grace Presbyterian Church to bring the arts into their church’s ministry, while also utilizing unused space on the church campus. It is a winning combination for the church and the artists! For questions about Art Studios of Grace, contact Jay Winter Collins.