Jennifer Gillooly Cahoon loved the 20 years she spent teaching art and special education at East Providence High School. She never imagined that she would one day open her very own gallery and teaching space just down the street.
Jennifer had taken art classes at EPHS, but it wasn’t until 2011 – well into her career, when she was serving as chair of the high school’s art department – that she discovered her own painting talents. Her work began to sell locally and even internationally, and in 2015, she resigned from teaching to focus on art.
A board member of the East Providence Arts Council, Jennifer knew many artists in the East Providence Art Club and beyond who were interested in gallery space. She decided to combine her passions for painting, teaching and helping other artists and creatives into a center focusing on “everything I’ve loved doing professionally and personally.” It took some time to come together, but after looking for space so long she nearly gave up, a local realtor friend unexpectedly connected Jennifer with a great location within eyesight of the very high school classrooms where she had studied and taught.
“If you told me two years ago that I’d be doing this, I would have laughed,” she says. “But it was one serendipitous thing after another that led me here.”
At the new 2,200-square-foot HeARTspot Art Center, gallery exhibits now rotate through the center, and classes are taught ranging from the basics to more advanced in tons of mediums. A small gift shop sells affordable original artwork and merchandise like jewelry, mugs and magnets from featured artists who “understand their own voices and create art that reflects who they are.”
Jennifer’s philosophy behind HeARTspot is offering “art for the everyperson. My strong belief is that art can be taught to anybody, and it can be a powerful tool for overcoming the stresses of everyday life or dealing with things like dementia and depression.” Jennifer hopes to provide “access to this very powerful meditative therapeutic tool, getting you into that quiet space that we don’t often give ourselves in our day-to-day lives.”
HeARTspot Art Center and Gallery
1970 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence