The owner says the new location will allow for more parking and easier access to Route 2.
GARDNER – Art on the Rocks returns to Chair City.
The popular Leominster-based art studio, which offers painting and ceramics classes for children and adults, left its downtown Gardner location several years ago due to space issues. But owner Stacey Sparrow said she is currently in the process of renovating the Timpany Plaza space with an opening date planned for mid-to-late March.
“We’ve always wanted to stay in Gardner, we love Gardner and our studio has been very successful in Gardner, but we could never find the right space,” Sparrow said. “So going back to Gardner was always on the back burner.”
New location allowing more parking, access to nearby shops
Sparrow said the new 360 Timpany Boulevard location, which is next door to Papa Gino’s, is the perfect location for her studio for several reasons, especially when it comes to parking and access to other businesses in the area.
“If parents want to go see a movie while their kids come here and paint pottery, they can do that or vice versa,” she explained. “People can get pizza or coffee across the street and bring those things here. Or you can pick up a bottle of wine to share with your friends. (The Art on the Rocks Gardner location will be a BYOB studio, Sparrow added.) “I think it will be an event space for people.”
Another advantage of the new location would be easy access to Route 2, Sparrow said.
“We actually have a very large client base from Athol and Orange and some of the surrounding Gardner towns now coming to our Leominster studio, so this will give them an opportunity to visit us and start taking classes and workshops closer to home ,” she explained.
The studio left downtown Gardner due to a space issue
Sparrow said she has enjoyed her time in downtown Gardner and that parking has never been an issue since most of her studio classes are offered after traditional business hours.
“I didn’t grow up in New England, so the traditional downtown that you see in places like Gardner or Keene is something I love. I think it’s really cute when you have access to stores like John’s Sport Shop and Priscilla’s and the Velvet Goose,” Sparrow explained. “But I think in this fast-paced world, having access to a one-stop shop is great.”
The classes offered by Art on the Rocks are considered luxury goods, Sparrow acknowledged.
“But people have to go to Tractor Supply, and sometimes you just need pizza on a Friday night, so hopefully having access to those places will be good for us as well,” she said.
Sparrow said he is currently in the process of hiring between four and six employees to work at the Timpany Plaza location.
A studio built to let everyone be creative
Sparrow, a former teacher, opened the first Art on the Rocks studio in 2011 after graduating from college with an art degree, but found it difficult to find a teaching job in the field.
“When I graduated from college, (schools) cut all the art programs, so I told my husband I wanted to open my own studio and teach art,” she explained. “We started with fine art classes for kids and drawing and sip classes for adults, and then it just grew from there.”
Most of the classes offered by the studio these days — including vintage ceramics, clay sculpture and acrylic painting — are attended by up to 50 participants and often sell out, Sparrow said. The classes have become popular with birthday parties, couples’ dinners, corporate team building groups and local civic groups.
“There’s always been this thought that only certain people should do art, and it’s always been my goal to make sure that everyone feels they can be creative,” Sparrow said.