When Emily McEwan-Upright opened Gallery 1202 in downtown Gilroy in 2017, she realized there was a need for more venues and programs to support local artists.
It became even more apparent to her after she moved the gallery to a larger location inside The Neon Exchange in 2019, as she met and talked with artists who expressed interest in exhibiting.
“I knew there needed to be a space to support local artists,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much that was needed until I opened the gallery.”
Now, McEwan-Upright hopes to address that need with her latest venture.
In February, Gallery 1202’s recently formed nonprofit organization will open 6th Street Studios & Art Center, providing a place for local artists to rent studio space, hold classes, exhibit their work and other opportunities.
The center, at 64 West Sixth St., will fill the former office of the Gilroy Dispatch, which moved to Monterey Street in October.
The spacious main room of the building will serve as an exhibit space, with floor-to-ceiling windows fronting Sixth Street that will allow passersby to view the latest works of art on display.
The center will offer a number of flexible studio spaces for artists, McEwan-Upright said. In addition, a shared studio space, available on a membership basis, will be outfitted with storage lockers, easels, drawing desks and other supplies. Artists can also rent out a room to use as a classroom.
“We are going to try to make it as affordable as possible for local artists to come in here,” she said, adding that she is already getting interest from artists to rent out spaces.
6th Street Studios & Art Center will also be creating programming for after school youth art programs, and grants to benefit local artists.
McEwan-Upright has teamed up with Maria Cid, owner of a Farmers Insurance agency in Gilroy, who is the first person to sit on the new nonprofit’s board.
Cid said she remembers walking into Gallery 1202’s first location inside the Pixley House on Fifth Street and telling McEwan-Upright, “this is exactly what our community needs.”
“I believe in her vision,” she said. “We need our youth to see that there is more to art than just doodling on a pad. You can actually make a hobby into a profitable business if you want to.”
“Emerging,” a series of works by Whitney Pintello, will be shown in the street-facing windows, beginning Feb. 1 through the end of the month. All proceeds from sales will go to the artist and the nonprofit. Purchasing inquiries can be directed to Gallery 1202 at 7363 Monterey St.
6th Street Studios & Art Center adds to a growing downtown arts hub that includes Moya Art Gallery and Studio, Gilroy Arts Alliance, Leedo Art & Framing and Gallery 1202.
John Taft of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association said the center complements efforts to revitalize downtown and Gourmet Alley.
“We’re excited about 6th Street Studios,” he said. “I really like the concept that Emily has come up with. It’s going to be a great addition to the community and downtown. We’re looking forward to great success here and hope this takes off.”
For information, visit 6thstreetartstudios.org.