“Where community meets creativity”
This quote is one of the first things you see on the Crozet Artisan Depot’s website. Located at the former location of the Crozet Library, the hub shares the old train depot with the Tourism and Adventure Center. The depot strives to reach out to locals who want to share and support their artistic passions. Two business partners of the depot, Karen Yonovitz and Gillian Ruffa, gracefully sat down to discuss their goals and aspirations for the hub.
How it all started
“[The depot] sat empty for two years while Albemarle county was figuring out what do with it, ours was one of several applications to get the county to come up with a proposal as to what to create,” said Ms. Yonovitz. She expresses her excitement as she relives the moment when they received the lease by the county. Since then, the depot has been successful among local artists and the community.
“We are a destination where customers- people come and enjoy locally, handmade goods. So we are a hub for the artist community and a destination,” Karen Yonovitz
There are almost 80 artists throughout central Virginia represented at the depot. Artists are able to profit off of their through consignment sales. “We offer some of our artists the opportunity to earn a higher percentage on their consignment that they sell,” said Ms. Ruffa. Adding on, Ms. Yonovitz says, “There is an arrangement with every artist represented here to see their work on a consignment basis.” She continues to say how it is an “attractive feature for customers” when they come into the depot as they are able to meet an artist that works there.
An attribute of the depot is that there is no age limit on the artists. They recalled a particular young artist who started at 10 years old and is still creating work at the age of 12. “We have everything from veteran artists who have been doing professional work for decades to emerging young artists who just need a little mentoring,” said Ms. Yonovitz. The depot encourages artists of all ages to create and apply to the depot.
To recruit more artists, they put out a call for artists and “set up a jury process twice a year, typically in March and August...we decided to guide them [new artists] towards specific dates instead of people just randomly come in when one or the other of us are working,” said Ms. Ruffa. As much as they are always scouting for new artists, they elaborated saying that their jurying process has given them organization in focusing on each artist.
The depot features a different artist every month. Specifically this year, they have chosen to bring a few guest artists that don't already show their work at the depot. “We think it’s important to keep everything fresh, especially for the local people...These monthly events give us the chance to shine a spotlight and showcase one particular artist who has a body of work we want to present in a certain way,” said Ms. Ruffa. The depot offers a reception for the featured artist and is the foremost event the depot hosts every month.
Watching the Depot Grow
“When we have events, when we have open houses at Christmas time, the place is just filled. People are happy and that’s very exciting,” said Ms. Ruffa. She and Ms. Yonovitz further explained how the locals are proud of how the depot has grown since five years ago. They aspire to reach out to more community members in the future as some locals still don’t know about the depot.
Final Messages to the Community
“Art is important...Come be inspired by this beautiful work,” - Karen Yonovitz
“It [Art] feeds the soul….We’re inspired by it, every day we come in we inspired by the beauty that the people create in our community.” - Gillian Ruffa
If you’d like more information about the Crozet Artisan Depot, visit them at their website https://www.crozetartisandepot.com/.
Article and Photographs by Diana Kim