Employees from Lowe’s spent the day Sept. 14 painting the exterior and interior of the Gilroy Center for the Arts. Photo courtesy of Toni Bowles

Buckets and paint brushes in hand, about 15 employees from Lowe’s donned their red vests and blue shirts and descended on the Gilroy Center for the Arts on Sept. 14, giving the thrift store-turned-entertainment hub a much-needed makeover.

The center, located at 7341 Monterey St., was one of 100 projects nationwide to receive a 100 Hometowns grant, part of an initiative by Lowe’s in celebration of its centennial. More than 2,200 grant applications were submitted to the program.

In roughly six hours of work, the employees painted the building inside and out with a new hue, while repairing its decaying facade. Exterior lighting will also be installed soon.

“Although the center is still not finished, it already looks much more inviting,” Gilroy Center for the Arts President Marianne Eichenbaum said. “The Lowe’s people did a wonderful job. This means the world to us, and we feel we can be proud of our art center.”

Before (top) and after. Photos courtesy of the Gilroy Center for the Arts

Toni Bowles, owner of The Neon Exchange nearby, submitted a grant application nominating the center for the upgrade. She said she nominated the center because she felt a desperate need to help launch a revitalization effort for a community that has been adversely affected by both the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic the following year.

“The arts as a whole is a common ground for all of us regardless of background and can be used as a therapeutic form of expression of joy and/or sadness,” she said. “To invest in a center that is dedicated to community-based art in every form is to invest in ourselves and to express utmost gratitude for the unique gifts and talents we all bring to the table.”

Eichenbaum said the center is very thankful for Bowles’ effort in the nomination.

“She’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m so happy she did that. We are so grateful.”

The center is currently showing the artwork of Scott Downs through Sept. 30. Downs, who spent his career as a high school art teacher, including 23 years as the art department chair at Los Gatos High School, works primarily in oils, acrylics and watercolor.

Due to popular demand, an African drumming workshop will return on Oct. 16 from 2-4pm.

Limelight by South Valley Civic Theatre is also performing “Ripcord” on select days at the center through Oct. 2.

The Gilroy Center for the Arts is open Fridays from 2-4pm and weekends from 11am to 4pm. For information and to register for classes, visit gilroycenterforthearts.com.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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