New artists’ cooperative to open at the Princeton Shopping Center in September

Heloisa Tavares (l) and Margaret Bynum, two artists in the Princeton Makes artists’ cooperative, standing outside the space at the Princeton Shopping Center.

A former retail space at the Princeton Shopping Center is being transformed into a co-op and studios for local artists.

Princeton resident Jim Levine is the driving force behind the new space next to the Metropolis Hair Salon that will be called Princeton Makes. He and the other artists who are part of the co-op will celebrate the grand opening of the space from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 18. The event will feature live music, plein-air painting in the shopping center courtyard, and demonstrations by artists. The event is free and open to the public.

Levine, the former interim director of the Arts Council of Princeton, creates stained glass art. He was looking for a space to create his art outside of the home, and that’s how he had the idea for the artists’ co-op.

Originally, Levine envisioned Princeton Makes as a space where individual artists would sell art out of their own studios. Based on feedback from artists, his idea evolved to include both studio space and retail space where artists can sell their work on consignment.

A percentage of artists’ sales go to the business, and artists with studio space will pay rent for their space at below-market rates. Currently, 10 artists have reserved studio spaces, and another 16 artists will be selling their work on consignment. Artists are responsible for spending eight hours in the store every two weeks to help with the retail side of Princeton Makes. The artists who have studios can spend those eight hours in the studio space. “Whenever the store is open, this guarantees that there will be someone in the studio to talk with people,” Levine said.

Princeton Makes will fill a need for artist studios in the Princeton area while also offering interaction and inspiration among the artists, who will be able to use the space seven days a week. The cooperative will initially be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

“The shopping center management has been great at helping this get going,” Levine said. “They want to support artists, while also bringing in more foot traffic.”

Art made and sold at Princeton Makes will cover a range of artistic genres, including painting, drawing, stained glass, sculpture, and jewelry. Customers will be able to support local artists by shopping for a wide variety of art, including large paintings, prints, custom-made greeting cards, stained glass lamps and window hangings, jewelry in a variety of designs and patterns, and more.

Levine said one of the biggest draws for artists has been the opportunity to be a part of a community of fellow artists. “Princeton Makes will provide a space where they can both do and talk art among each other. It’s fun to see that aspect.”