Spotlight on Liza Cowan
Of Winooski Circle Arts
“We don’t just sell art,” Liza Cowan said of Winooski Circle Arts, a new store that opened Oct. 15 off of the Winooski circle. “We sell products in different departments, such as home goods, food products and personal accessories (hats, nail polish and clothes) that are all locally made.”
Cowan, who grew up in New York City, has lived in Vermont for 12 years. She is retail manager, curator and designer for Winooski Circle Arts, which is owned by Jodi Harrington. Also a decorative painter and ski instructor, Harrington is a resident of Winooski and fifth generation Vermonter.
Harrington started a series of pop-up galleries along the storefronts of the building complex next to the Winooski Circle in 2011 and held a holiday pop-up market in 2011 and 2012. “The storefronts were empty and it brought thousands of people to Winooski. It showed people in Winooski were excited about art,” Cowan said.
Winooski Circle Arts had their grand opening Dec. 6. “It was so much fun!” Cowan exclaimed. “It brought a great mix of people, neighbors, customers — young and old — and it was very comfortably crowded in here. We tried to make it a very happy and welcoming place.”
Cowan used to own Pine Street Artworks, a gallery on Pine Street in Burlington, but started her own small company in 2010, Small Equals. Cowan manufactures and designs wooden keepsake boxes, flashbags and greeting cards. “It’s the big art of giving small,” she explained.
In the past, Cowan also gained experience with painting, photography and graphic design, although she prefers photography and graphic design because “painting requires a studio” and she no longer has one.
Cowan explained that Winooski Circle Arts tries to find products from mostly Vermont artists, but everything is locally made. “Everything is ethically made,” Cowan started. “People are producing things with their own hands using non-toxic materials that are sourced ethically.” Ginny Joyner and Carol McDonald, Colchester residents, are only two of the 35 artists currently selling here.
The goal of Winooski Circle Arts, according to Cowan, is to support artists, provide exceptional products to customers and strengthen the viability downtown. “A strong downtown is important to a community,” Cowan stated.
Cowan enjoys her job for many reasons. “Working here fills everything I love to do,” she laughed. She works with artists to find a great place to sell their work and suggests better ways to market their products. “The community building is very important,” she said. “It’s not just building a community of artists, but a neighborhood.”
During the winter months, Winooski Circle Arts will host classes. So far, they have planned a watercolor and an iPhone photography classes. A knitting class is still in the works.
The store is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and until 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. For more information, visit their website at www.winooskicirclearts.com