As a shop local enthusiast and collective supporter, I was surprised to hear about Kingston gem Meraqi Art Annex for the first time a few weeks ago! Exploring their beautiful space on Brock St., I thought they would be the perfect shop to introduce you to our new monthly feature: Meet The Locals.
Meet the Locals: Meraqi Art Annex
Owned by one of the nicest people I've ever met, Grace started this collective 2 years ago to offer a wide and eclectic collection created by artists from Kingston and the surrounding areas. The combination of 2 words, Meraqi sums up the local artist collective meaning "inspired to create with soul, creativity and love."
Julie: What made you want to start a collective for local artists?
Grace: Well, as an artist myself, it's hard to sell your art on your own because space is very cost prohibitive - especially downtown - so sharing as a cooperative and sharing to support each other was one of the reasons. Also staffing and trying to do all of the things around marketing is complicated and time consuming as an artist.
J: The artists that are part of the collective, they also work here?
G: Yeah! They're here on different days. For example Aurora is usually here on Fridays and Amanda on Sundays. Different days, different artists. It also helps when people love a piece of art we can suggest they come in on a day when that artist is working. People love that because they can connect and chat with the artist that created the pieces they love.
J: Does the collective remain the same or does it change annually or seasonally?
G: There is room to join the collective. People need to get in touch with us with a portfolio and some information about themselves and we put it in the queue. There is a fee to be a collective artist but we share the space and promote the work.
J: People can find the physical location, but do you have an online presence?
G: Yes. We have the website and I started an online store this week so people can shop during the wintertime when they don't want to venture downtown when the streets are pretty heavy with snow. We're also on all the social media channels.
J: Along with the collective, you also have some consignment artists as well?
G: We have about 20 consignment artists that bring their products in. We try to shake it up and things sell quickly but usually every 3 months we switch it up. Right now we are getting pieces for fall and winter and obviously different things for Christmas.
J: You make jewelry but you are also a potter?
G: I do pottery as well. I do metal work - everything from silver and copper, bronze, brass and some gold as well. I do a lot of sculpture pottery and I have more coming in with metal accents. I have them in different stages of completion but they'll be in soon. The bird houses in the windows and the terrariums are complete with copper accents but newer things are coming.
J: There really is something for everyone here!
G: Absolutely. And something at every price point. That is a big one for us because it's art for everyone in here. It's not exclusive it really is art for everyone. From a $25 necklace to a painting for a few thousand dollars, we really want this to be for everyone and we try to keep it that way. I love when people come in to tour around. We get comments about how the space is like a museum and people can just stay for a long time and just look and come in another a few weeks later and find things they didn't notice the first time around. We have artist biographies on the wall and lots to see.
J: Would you say that the majority of the pottery that's in here has been fired at Amaranth?
G: I love Amaranth, it's my studio away from home. A good portion of the work here has been done there. A lot of Amanda's Raku and a lot of her pottery is fired at Amaranth. We both purchase the majority of our supplies at there as well. They are our 1 stop shop for sure. I'm so grateful that they're in the community because it makes it easy for everyone, especially new beginners to get their foot in the door and try it out. I can easily send people there because of how convenient the location is and their hours of operation are great. I tell people to go up there to take lessons all the time.
J: What's next for Meraqi Art Annex?
G: I've started blogging and will focus on that a little more during the quieter months. We also want to do some fundraisers and classes. We'll probably look into having things in the store in either January or February.