WOODBURY — Jim Hinkle and Nadine Cascini recently opened Studio Hill Gallery and Design Shop, which is located directly across from the historic 1754 House in Woodbury. Their gallery and studio is awash in ambient light that falls upon the artwork in three rooms.
The gallery is featuring “Herstory,” an all-women artists show in honor of Women’s History Month. Nine artists who draw various media are being featured through April 11. Among those on exhibit are Tracy W. Hambley, a Southbury resident showing five of her assemblages; Nadine H. Newell, a Woodbury native who works with oils on canvas — showing four of her landscapes; Mieke Schuyler, the owner of Clapp & Tuttle frame shop in Woodbury, showing five of her pressed aquatic plants of Connecticut with specimens she acquired from Lake Quassapaug, Lake Waramaug, and Kent; Lisa Lind, a Woodbury resident showing her hand-painted “Banana” Tote bags; and Theresa Bates, a Roxbury resident, showing five of her mixed media abstract pieces.
Hinkle and Cascini took a gamble opening up during the pandemic, although they had committed to doing so well before the world changed and altered life and business.
The partners, who are engaged to be married, purchased the circa 1850 building two years ago and set about making changes to turn part of what is also their home into a gallery and studio. Hinkle is a landscape designer by trade and his talents, and those of his close friend Paul Fujitani, owner of Growing Solutions, came in handy when the partners undertook the work to turn what had been strictly a residence into a business. A New England-looking stone wall was constructed on one side of the house and a stone walkway installed, in keeping with the rural character of the town. A small, gravel parking area was made with gravel locally sourced. The partners’ goal was to feature both local and international artists of different medias, along with a bookstore and gift shop, where customers can browse with complementary refreshments. “We have had a nice reception from the people that have come in,” said Cascini, a retired educator. “We were able to set up a virtual tour of the gallery, studio and shop. This has always been a passion of ours and we want the gallery to bring a new appreciation of the work of local and area artists and others to those that visit Woodbury.”
Hinkle is himself an artist currently making wood carvings. “We want to create, learn and share with our customers,” he said. “We have a small studio in the rear of the building where we hope to be able to host small classes. We’d like to have an artist in residence program. We wanted to make the gallery not stuffy, which I think is the impression many people have when they think of an art gallery.”
To that end, the partners refinished the interior walls, maintaining the period feel, including parts of stenciling that was salvaged here and there. The floors in all rooms are wooden, which further lends a relaxed atmosphere to the spaces. A front room, painted in a light gray, displays the works of various artists, as does an interior space that is graced by the house’s original fireplace. In a back room there’s artwork along with a selection of teas (a pot is always brewed and waiting for visitors to pour a cup), books, games and “gift items.”
The “Book Nook” in the design shop, as the space is called, features art books, nature books, cocktail books, literature, poetry, interior design, and garden books.
Said Cascini, “We wanted to mix in some other things with the artwork to appeal to a broader range of visitor. We welcome people to come in, pour a cup of tea and linger. Many of the items are made by local artisans and sourced locally and regionally.”
The partners said they chose Woodbury to set up home, gallery, studio and shop because whenever they visited it, they said they loved it.
“It almost reminds me of Stowe, Vermont, where I lived for awhile,” Hinkle said.
Hinkle and Cascini plan to create a sculpture garden on the north side of their property where visitors can wander or sit with a cup of tea in hand.
For more information, visit www.studiohillct.com