Patrons of the Grand Central Mall might have noticed a recent change around the corner from the food court. Instead of the bright yellow façade, visitors may notice a calming teal and gray-toned storefront and a new logo: The Watering Can Art Studio. You’ll still find many of the same creative outlets inside; shelves of unpainted ceramic pieces await the artistic mind to come and jazz them up, but now there is so much more.
MJ Ayson-Lemon, the new owner of a local favorite pottery studio, has taken a lifelong love of art and a dream since high school and turned it into an artful reality. The art studio not only hosts walk-in ceramics and canvas paintings but now new and seasoned artists can come in for “learnshops”, workshops taught by MJ as well as guest artists. There is even a section for locally crafted art and gifts. The most noticeable change is an atmosphere to invite in even the most uneasy creator.
Watercolors are probably my first love, but really I’ve done it all. Everything from oil painting to scrapbooking.
MJ grew up in Pittsburgh, spending much of her childhood in art classes at the Carnegie Museum of Art after school and while her mom worked next door. When she wasn’t taking classes, she was “that museum kid,” floating around to different artists, soaking up their mediums like a sponge. All the art she absorbed then has stuck with her throughout her life and led her to opening The Watering Can. “Watercolors are probably my first love, but really I’ve done it all. Everything from oil painting to scrapbooking,” she said. And everything is just what she plans on bringing to the MOV.
On the day we met, MJ was giddy over the delivery she got to unpack that morning. “We have 2 new pottery wheels in, and when I went to order them, I noticed they had teal legs! Every other time I looked at these wheels, not quite ready to order, they had black legs on them, but now they had teal! Like they were meant for this space!” Now guests can come in and take these wheels for a test spin – no pun intended.
“I want people to be able to affordably try new things,” MJ explained, “not everyone can or wants to drop a bunch of money on a 6-week pottery series. They want to try new things to see if they actually do like them, then go from there.” With the newly unveiled space, artists of every skill level will be able to check out a wide variety of mediums, to hopefully find their creative niche, much like MJ did when she was growing up.
Along with new classes for adults, MJ plans on growing kids’ activities, something that has declined in the area. The front of the store shows off two teepees and a shelf of kids’ books to entertain the little ones, inviting parents and kids in to be curious and explore, not just to tiptoe around the fragile pieces like so many do. She went on to talk about her youngest student – just 18 months old and making their own little pottery bowl! “If an 18-month old can do it, anyone can!”
People like MJ are breathing life back into the local art scene. It always takes a village though, so take note of the next piece of art that makes you smile, and hold onto it. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, go visit The Watering Can Art Studio, and make your own art!