We can hardly contain our excitement surrounding the opening of SoMA, the South of Main Art Collective in Deep River. Female founder, Chelbi Wade, felt a gap in the community connecting locals with the arts and developed her mission to provide art and education through workshops, events, and classes. After graduating from Montserrat College of Art and a stint as a Montessori teacher, Chelbi created Shell&Bee Studio, an immersive art education studio for children in 2019. Shell&Bee not only survived but THRIVED in the hellish year we call 2020. She quickly outgrew her studio space. When she learned the thrift store down the street was moving, she saw an opportunity to expand her studio while simultaneously bringing her long-held dream of a community-based art collective to the CT shoreline. Chelbi wanted to create a safe and approachable space for artists and students alike, fostering imagination and igniting the creative spirit.
Following an extensive month-long renovation to the building, SoMA officially opened its doors on June 11th. The building’s glow-up was powerful, transforming a muted brown seventies-esque eyesore into a knockout modern edifice with a bright happy mural by CMC Signs. Generous volunteers assisted in the renovation, and the industrial interior was styled and organized by A Good Home, making this project a truly local, community-based collaboration.
Within SoMA, Shell&Bee Studio offers art classes, events, and workshops for toddlers through adults (their popular summer program sells out FAST). Other artists in the collective include Erin Gordon of Wellness Room Deep River, Jeni Gray-Roberts of RiverFire Glass, and Linalynn Schmelzer of River Valley Dance Project.
SoMa also has a retail store within the space, showcasing a number of small local makers with everything from handmade wooden bowls, kitchenware, pottery, handmade stationery, framed art, branded artist swag, and more.
Save the 3rd Friday of every month for gallery exhibits showcasing local artists, and keep an eye out for quarterly Sunday Art Markets.
500 South Main Street (Suite 5), Deep River