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Artists on Main Street Jewel in the Heart of the City

Jovy Rockey has been in Winona for about 10 years now, and she’s long had a vision of finding space downtown for her jewelry business. A few months ago, she made her vision a reality, opening up a gallery and studio in the heart of the downtown. For the past few years, she’s be working in a basement studio in her home, going to art fairs, and building connections with other local artists. Other galleries have come and gone in Winona, but she’s always felt she could bring something unique to the table and fill a niche.

"I've pictured something like this in Winona for a long time," - Jovy Rockey

It’s clear that Jovy sees that art and creativity are deeply important for a thriving community, but a vibrant arts scene isn’t something that happens by accident. She recognizes how important it is to build momentum, so she opened her gallery intending to make it more than a gallery. She designed it with a collaborative approach in mind, hoping to provide the spark of momentum and deepen her impact on Winona’s art scene.

Her space on 3rd Street includes a small studio space and a larger gallery filled with jewelry she’s made and other art from local creatives. She’s started hosting monthly “Maker Meet-Ups”—events for Winona creatives to connect, talk shop, and build the connections essential for a vibrant arts scene. Jovy wants people to feel welcome and comfortable asking for advice; she sees her space as a hub for that. She’ll host pop-up shops with other artists, even if they don’t have art at her gallery, and provide wine and snacks. A new coworking space is opening up next door, and she’s been talking with the owner about how to collaborate and bring more creatives into the offices.

Artists on Main Street and her gallery have a multiplier effect, building off each other’s energy, and leaving a powerful impression in people’s minds.

When Jovy heard about Artists on Main Street through Facebook, she hadn’t yet opened up her gallery, but it deepened her conviction about doing so. “The Third Space grant got me really fired up. I’m not going to lie,” she enthusiastically said. All of a sudden, there was a resurgence in excitement about looking at downtown for her gallery, and she felt even more confident that downtown was the place she wanted to be. Though she was too busy with opening her own location to apply for a grant, Artists on Main Street wound up achieving exactly the effect she anticipated—and then some. By pure coincidence, her gallery opened the same day as Shut Down 3rd Street, the block party in downtown Winona funded by Artists on Main Street. She was a sponsor for the event, and had over 200 people walk through her doors that first day.

Jovy is unsurprisingly optimistic about the future of downtown Winona, and her positive outlook is contagious. Artists on Main Street and her gallery have a multiplier effect, building off each other’s energy, and leaving a powerful impression in people’s minds. That can inspire people to get more involved, much like how Artists on Main Street inspired her. “There’s so much potential in Winona. It’s hard for people to jump into the unknown, but hopefully, we’re making that a little easier to do.”

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