The collisions echoing from the second floor of 209 Pine St. on a recent Saturday evening were noticeable to any passerby. They were the sounds of skateboards striking the curved planks of an indoor skatepark, of their riders taking an occasional spill, and of onlookers climbing a century-old stairway for a unique experience.
It was King of the Ramp night at Jamestown Skate Products. In a building once occupied by Jones Bakery and a bowling alley, a regional skateboarding contest was well underway, supplemented by music and art arranged by the Active Artists Alliance.
The sounds that evening were symbolic of the creative collisions taking place in Jamestown between the past and present, between arts and commerce, and between the local and traveling artists that now descend regularly onto a few square blocks of downtown.
The scene that night would have been hard to imagine on Pine Street not too long ago. With the Broadhead smokestack and Fenton Mansion within view to the south, it's a block visually steeped in Jamestown's history.
But the imaginative reuse of 209 Pine St. by owner Pete Scheira is one of many projects in that area that are breaking down conventional thinking about what's possible in the city and its outstanding stock of older buildings. The colorful LED light display at the Dykeman-Young Gallery, on the corner of Pine and Second streets, is another example, and one whose proximity that Saturday to the skate park and a Little Theater packed for "Spamalot," added to a vibrant and contemporary atmosphere.
This mixing of business and the arts is overcoming the perception that for-profit businesses and the not-for-profit world of arts and culture somehow exist on different planes. Several businesses in the city have integrated themselves into the local arts community because it's good for business and assists in building a loyal following. Jamestown Skate Products engages with artists to make its events more dynamic, to design great promotional posters, and to reinforce skateboarding as an art form by literally turning the boards into works of art.
They also do it because it gives a business a greater sense of purpose within the community and stronger ties to creative minds that are figuring out what's next. In turn, local artists benefit by having a wider audience for their work, which can lead to commercial opportunities for their services. And they benefit from mixing with the many outside musicians and artists who find it convenient to visit Jamestown venues between gigs in bigger cities. Why not stop by and play at Mojo's in Jamestown in between shows in Syracuse and Cleveland?
Proximity is the key. Jamestown's closeness to major markets is beneficial to both business and arts activity. And the commingling of arts venues and creative businesses in downtown Jamestown drives the beneficial collisions that, like the crashing of tectonic plates, are slowly building new landscapes in an old city.
WINTER MARKET BEGINS
For the second year in a row, the Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market is moving inside for the winter. Starting this Friday, the Winter Market will fill the Dr. Lillian Ney Renaissance Center at 119-121 W. Third St. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It continues through February.
Participating farms include Busti Cider Mill and Small Meadows Farm, which will be selling local produce, herbs, cheese, honey, eggs, jams, maple products, and meats.
Besides the farmers, you'll find Gypsy Moon Cake Company selling soups, sandwiches, pasta, and cupcakes; Dalahast Coffee Roasters selling locally roasted coffee, including seasonal blends; and Steelie Bros. Fly Shop offering fishing supplies. Additional vendors will be added throughout the season.
Classes are also planned throughout the winter, including pilates every Friday from noon-1 p.m., an artisan greeting card class on Nov. 8, and a food preservation class focusing on apple sauce on Nov. 15. For more information, visit the Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market on Facebook, or contact Christina King at 664-2477, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renaissance Reflections is a biweekly feature with news from the front lines of Jamestown's revitalization.