ENCINITAS — Art N Soul on 101 isn’t your typical art gallery. The splashes of color and full sunlight streaming from the storefront windows provide a welcome feeling for customers who are intrigued by the unique mix of artistry. And they don’t even know the whole story.
The gallery — filled with handmade crafts and artistic creations by local artists — is the vision of realtor Cindy Blumkin and landscape designer Paige Perkins. The two forged ahead to expose local artists to a wider customer base while giving back to the community.
The gallery celebrated the mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses, artists, charitable organizations and the community during a celebration March 20. With hundreds of loyal customers, artists and community groups in attendance, the festivities spilled out onto the sidewalk of downtown.
In addition to creating a nurturing environment for local artists, the owners have designed a revolutionary business model for allocating the store’s profits. An artist receives 60 percent of the proceeds of the sale of their work while the store takes the remaining 40 percent.
The entire staff consists of volunteers, including Blumkin and Perkins. “High school students are enrolled in a work-study program, retired people enjoy staffing the store because of the energy it has and we have artists who help out as well,” Perkins said.
After the low overhead is paid, all of the profits are donated to specific local charities. “This is a marriage between support of the artist and support of the community,” Blumkin said.
Since its opening in August 2007, the Art N Soul on 101 has donated more than $35,000. “That’s a huge achievement,” said Sara Parker who was shopping during the party. “For so many organizations, especially with the current economic situation, it’s important to have consistent financial support to do the good work they are doing.”
The regional nonprofit organizations that receive quarterly donations from the store change each year, according to Blumkin. Current recipients include Shakti Rising, Casa De Amparo, Guitars in the Classroom, Kids for Peace and Project Talk.
Featured artists were also on hand to discuss their unique artistic approaches. Diane Colletti’s designer jewelry was a hit, but pieces sold out quickly. “I was just looking at a necklace and as soon as I put it down, someone bought it,” exclaimed Laura Jordon. Sissy Cutchen’s folk art and Russ Coletti’s designs also proved to be crowd pleasers.
“Just having something downtown in the evening that’s family-friendly is a huge benefit,” said Mark Jansen. He was joined by his wife, Mary, and their 3-year-old daughter Meghan. “It’s nice to have such a good reason to walk around and see beautiful art and know that the money you spend is going to a greater cause,” he said.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth lauded the efforts of the shops owners and artists in supporting one another as well as non-profit organizations. “It’s guilt-free shopping,” Barth said. “It says a lot about our community that one of our local businesses is giving back to the community in such a significant way.”
Art N Soul is open Tuesday through Sunday and Monday by appointment. The store is located at 633 S. Coast Hwy. 101. Call (858) 442-8666 for more information.