A once popular upscale restaurant well-known to Bristol residents, the Hotpoint now stands as an artist cooperative retail store that features art from all mediums created by more than 30 local artists.
Ellen Blomgren, owner of the successful Mudstone Studios in Warren, came to Bristol with dreams of expanding her footprint and reaching a wider audience. Due to what she considers poor timing, that effort was unsuccessful. But that experience opened doors to a new opportunity, when the landlord of the Hotpoint location contacted Ms. Blomgren, she put out the word, and the emporium concept took shape.
“We are always looking for things to sell, places to sell. I know a lot of artists, and we just connected and all came together. We really made this place together,” Ms. Blomgren said. “I helped facilitate it, but everyone really is an equal partner in this.”
Many of the pottery and sculpture contributing artists to the new Hotpoint Emporium come from Mudstone Studios. Two of those artists are Holly Dirks and Andrew Nasser.
Ms. Dirks is a full-time potter. One of the most unique features of her work is that she makes her own glazes, each her own recipes. “I try my best to reflect the colors I see in the ocean and from the mountains, being originally from the Pacific northwest,” Ms. Dirks said.
“The first connection was through Mudstone Studios. There are, I think, four or five of us here that are potters and sculptors,” Ms. Dirks said. “Their passion for art is contagious, and being able to showcase their art in different venues, I jumped at the chance to join them.”
Mr. Nasser, a ceramic contributing artist, makes mostly tableware such as mugs, bowls and other items that are functional for everyday use. Doing the majority of his work also through Mudstone, he was able to collaborate with Ms. Blomgren.
“Our first official day open for business was Oct. 7, so it has not been very long, but we have been pretty successful so far,” Mr. Nasser said.
Pottery and sculpture are just two of the many trades offered at the Hotpoint.
Richard Bradley, professional jewelry designer and founder of his line, “My Pink Planet,” also contributes to the exhibit. With the majority of his trade moving overseas, he dedicates himself to making one-of-a-kind creations here in Rhode Island.
“I do have an attachment to each one. Sometimes I’ll use a stone or a bead that I’ve had lying around my house for 30 years, looking for just the right thing to do with it,” Mr. Bradley said. “I like that even though it is costume jewelry, there is so much handwork in it, and by doing it one at a time, from start to finish, everything comes out a little bit different.”
Hotpoint Emporium is at 39 State St., formerly home to the Hotpoint restaurant.
“We are all very excited. There are over 30 of us,” Ms. Blomgren said. “We all invited people, and we are happy for them to come celebrate that we are opening a store.”