WOONSOCKET – Like many other professionals, Kim Celona did a lot of soul searching during the pandemic.
The art teacher from North Smithfield said she always wanted to open a studio to sell her artwork. She also wanted a place where she could collaborate with other artists and invite members of the community in to experience art for the first time.
The result was Monument Square Arts, a new gallery and retail space that Celona opened on Main Street in Woonsocket last week. The gallery is located at 2 Monument Square, immediately next to Beacon Charter High School for the Arts and across the street from the Stadium Theatre.
“My passion has always been varied. Obviously I have a passion for teaching, but I felt like there was another part of me that needed to be fulfilled,” said Celona, who plans to continue teaching at McGuire Elementary School in North Providence.
Celona grew up in Johnston and studied illustration at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She received her master’s in painting from New York University, completing her studies in Venice before returning to Rhode Island.
Celona said she plans to offer art at different price points so residents from different backgrounds can enjoy it. She said those who feel “intimidated” by art should not be afraid to wander into her space.
“I think as long as you feel captivated in some way, that’s all that really matters,” she said.
In addition to her own artwork, the gallery offers art, clothing and jewelry, with an emphasis on up-and-coming local artists and designers. Celona said she hopes to collaborate with other artists and host events in the space. Her first event last week was hosted in collaboration with Caritas Smile, a nonprofit run by friend and fellow artist Sixcia Devine, and featured music by Elise Testone, a Chepachet-based musician and American Idol finalist who hopes to open a music studio upstairs.
At 500 square feet, the location is small, but Celona said it’s perfect for what she has in mind. Her daughter attends Beacon Charter High School for the Arts, and the gallery owner said she hopes to collaborate and offer mentorship programs with the school.
She’s also happy to be on Main Street, a neighborhood that has seen a steady stream of interest from new businesses and investors in recent months. She compared downtown Woonsocket to the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, a former industrial area-turned-artists’ paradise where she lived in the 1980s, just before its transformation.
“It has so much potential, this area. It seems like businesses are growing and the time is now,” she said.
The gallery’s current hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m., or by appointment. Celona also offers tarot card readings in the space on Thursday evenings and by appointment. Visitors can contact her by calling 401-573-2255 or through the business’s social media pages under Monument Square Arts.