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New Amherst business aims to e_SFlbnurture artists, creativity

  • Tamzeena Hutchinson in the Arts alive space on South Pleasant in Amherst.  <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Tamzeena Hutchinson in the Arts alive space on South Pleasant in Amherst.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Some of the craft kits that Tamzeena Hutchinson has made  available to make in the Arts Alive craft space on South Pleasant Street in Amherst.  <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Some of the craft kits that Tamzeena Hutchinson has made available to make in the Arts Alive craft space on South Pleasant Street in Amherst.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tamzeena Hutchinson in the Arts alive space on South Pleasant in Amherst.  <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Some of the craft kits that Tamzeena Hutchinson has made  available to make in the Arts Alive craft space on South Pleasant Street in Amherst.  <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

Art Alive, at 35 South Pleasant St., is the brainchild of Tamzeena Hutchinson of Amherst, who describes her business model as one that brings people of all ages together in support of making art.

“We envision it as being a space for people in our community to come together and get to know each other while experiencing hands-on arts and crafts,” Hutchinson said.

Art Alive is, in part, like a live “Etsy,” the online resource where artists can sell their products, according to Hutchinson. But it will also have space to host birthday parties, bridal showers and art workshops and an area where children and parents can do crafts.

“We imagine people sipping on tea, chatting, relaxing, while crafting,” Hutchinson said.

Along the brick walls and on the brightly colored shelves, painted in gem turquoise, Hawaiian passion and peacock feather, she estimates that about 40 different items are on sale that include gifts and home decor. Jewelry, photographs and paintings, leatherwork, including belts and purses, as well as clocks and pillows are offered.

“A lot of artists will be selling custom art from here,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson makes sock creatures, what she calls a new take on the old-fashioned sock monkey. She also makes wallets, moccasins and purses, and recently created hand-made stools from concrete and wooden dowels that will serve as seating for customers and which may also be sold.

Since 2010, Hutchinson has been operating Soundscape Imaging, a screenprinting and embroidery business that produces hats, T-shirts and banners, among other items. That business now will be housed at Art Alive.

Hutchinson, who is also a partner in Explore Disc Golf, said the idea of developing Art Alive came to her a few months ago.

As a parent of an 11-year-old daughter, she said she dreamed of a place where pre-teens would have something to do, and the opportunity to offer do-it-yourself crafts kits was one element of this. “I realized that we don’t have a place like that,” Hutchinson said.

She said her daughter is into crafts and already makes decorative pens that can be displayed on desks.

At the front of the store is space set up for craft-making. Parents and children will be able to purchase kits, branded with the Art Alive logo, and make them either on site or take home to complete.

These may include projects such as birdhouses, knitting needles and balls of yarn, and wool and felting. She said kits for pottery are also a possibility.

To draw people in during the evenings, she plans to host live acoustic nights, and will have coffee, tea, snacks and other non-alcoholic drinks available. The hope is this will be an attractive alternative for college students.

“It will be something to do other than go to the bar for a drink,” Hutchinson said.

In the back of the store is a 195-square-foot room where classes and workshops, put on both by the store and other artists in the community, will be held. In addition, this room will be rented out for such occasions as birthday parties or bridal showers, where members of the party might create centerpieces and other decor for the wedding.

Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, said the creative space concept is an interesting one and he hopes this can bring energy to the storefront.

“As a former arts store owner, any arts-related business that comes into town I get excited by,” Maroulis said.

Art Alive will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p,m on Sundays.

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