The best thing Jami Childers ever did, she said, was hop on a Greyhound bus at age 19 in Southern California and head to Jacksonville. Her second-best decision could be opening 44 Monroe Art Studio & Gallery. Located near the corner of Monroe and Laura streets at – you guessed it – 44 W. Monroe St., Childers’ studio launched last fall in the epicenter of Downtown revitalization. The spot offers a variety of classes, Childers’ art for sale and gallery exhibitions featuring work by other local artists. Childers paints daily in her studio, and when the weather is nice, you might find her outside with an easel in the sunshine. We recently caught up with the #DTJax business owner to share her story.
What does your studio offer customers and clients?
Our studio is a place where artists can learn, teach and show their work – providing space that is affordable for creators to explore their talents without spending a fortune. We believe that more people can obtain original art when gallery costs are lower, and more money stays with the artists so they can create more art. It’s a win-win.
What is your educational and/or professional background?
I have taken classes and workshops on the West and East Coasts and have taught oil-painting classes for several years now. I truly love sharing my experience and knowledge with others through continued education.
Why did you decide to open an art studio?
I decided to open the studio because we grew out of the barber shop where our classes were being held. After working as a barber for more than 19 years at Jami’s Barber Shop & Art Studio, I decided it was time to take the leap and make art my full-time job. Although, I still spend weekends taking care of the haircare needs of longtime clients at my shop. 44 Monroe Art Studio & Gallery provides more space for students to learn, more space for local art to be featured and more flexibility for the scheduling of classes.
Why did you decide to open your art studio Downtown, specifically?
Opportunity and the chance for more exposure played a major role is my decision to move Downtown. I have wanted to be a permanent part of the Downtown scene since I participated in Art Walk a few years ago. I thought we definitely needed more galleries and art classes down here. I believe I can reach more people by being Downtown, and it has already happened! My primary subject for painting are portraits, and I was just recently commissioned by Deborah Heuskin-Adloff to paint a portrait of her classmate’s 14-year-old daughter, who had recently passed away. Portraits are more than a pretty picture of a person – they have the ability to draw that person closer to us. If I can bring a little joy to a broken heart, that is what this is all about! Her parents will forever treasure that painting. Being Downtown afforded me that opportunity.
What do you love about owning a business Downtown?
I love having a business Downtown because so many exciting things are happening here. We are just steps from Hemming Park and the heart of Downtown, and there is such a great energy here.
How do you think your studio has added to Downtown’s vibe and/or arts scene.
Art is something that people have a connection to and want to learn more about it. Having a gallery/studio here is important because we are adding to the enrichment of people’s lives.
What do you love about Downtown personally?
Our family lived in Springfield for many years, and with Downtown being so close, we came here quite a bit. We love the buildings and architecture, events – it’s just great place to come! I love Jaxons Night Market, Art Walk, events at the Florida Theatre. There are tons of music venues, festivals, and lots of great places to eat and shop.
What’s next for the studio?
We currently have weekly classes for oil painting class and mixed media. We are adding a children’s painting class March 21, with an ages 8-12 workshop from 12-1:30 p.m. and a teen class from 2-4 p.m. We also have space for other artists to teach their own classes. We are working with the folks at Hemming Park and will soon be having art classes in the park! And every Art Walk, we feature a new guest artist, and their work hangs for the entire month. We also just expanded our hours – we’re now open Monday through Saturday.