WESTFIELD-For Steve Jones, founder of the Warrior’s Art Room, it “feels great” to be fully reopened after being closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jones, who served with the United States Marine Corps from 2001-2009, said he had a “soft opening” the week of June 16 which mostly consisted of a thorough cleaning of the studio and reorganizing of art materials. The official reopening was observed June 23.
“The first day we were a bit nervous but when people came back we picked up where we left off,” said Jones, adding that most of the conversations dealt with what people did during the pandemic.
On the evening of June 24, Jones’ daughter, SMP Cadet ShyAnne Jones, 21, who serves with the Army Reserves, was putting the finishing touches on a commissioned work titled “Downtown.” The acrylic on canvas work is a scene she is recreating from a town in Virginia.
Jones, who serves with a medical support unit in South Carolina, majored in studio art and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.
“I really enjoy meeting people and talking about art,” said Jones. “I can also teach others about art, why we make art, and how it affects us.”
As part of the mission of the Warrior’s Art Room, Steve Jones said the purpose of the studio is to provide veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces and their immediate families with a location that provides instruction in the creation of art, encourages the creation of art, and offers an outlet for works to be displayed. All materials are provided free.
“We also provide education by conducting workshops, one-on-one mentoring, free lectures and informal classes,” said Jones, adding, “We encourage the use of all mediums and forms of art.”
Jones said the process of creating art in any form can be “enjoyable, freeing, and inspiring.”
“We let people create freely and we provide the materials and the studio space,” he said.
Also on the evening of June 24, several people stopped in to paint military miniatures.
“It was a great night,” said Jones. “The group painted 28mm miniatures. The details are so tiny that some are using only a couple hairs on the brush to paint with.”
From watercolors, oils and pastels to abstract, realistic, and impressionistic works, Jones wants visitors to feel at home in the studio space.
“The creator of the art has something to show for their effort that they can, if they choose, seek the deeper meaning of that which was created,” he said.
In addition to the traditional materials offered for creating works on paper and canvas, other visitors may choose to journal and Jones now has new computers for those who wish to also write their memoirs. Additionally, supplies are now available for craft projects and making jewelry.
“Art can be made using just about anything at anytime,” said Jones. “Having special tools are nice but not necessary. A quick doodle is art just as is a bronze sculpture, one is not more powerful than the other in context.”
Jones said if anyone wants to discuss what they created there is always someone at the studio ready to listen.
“Art can be created by one’s self or with others,” he said. “It excels at bringing people, friends, lovers, and families together, through creating together.”
The Warrior’s Art Room is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. at 360 Elm St. Parking is available along the side of the building as well as on Elm Street.
For more information or to make a donation, call (413) 627-8170, send an email to [email protected], or visit warriorsartroom.org.
On a related note, the Big Y at 475 East Main St. will donate $1 from each purchase of its $2.50 reusable Community Bags to the Warrior’s Art Room during July.