BY CARMEN SIERING
Maybe it’s because she grew up in an artistic home—her father was a painter, her mother, a sculptor— but Jaime Sweany keeps circling back to art as a vocation. Her new enterprise is Juniper Art Gallery in Spencer.
“Turning 60 had a pretty big impact on me,” says Sweany, Bloom’s former associate publisher. “I realized the arts are what I want to do with my life, and this was the right time.”
The former owner of Wandering Turtle Art Gallery, located in downtown Bloomington from 2003 until 2011, and former executive director for the Brown County Art Guild, Sweany says she’s taken what she learned from those experiences to create her new business. Located at 46 E. Market St., Juniper Art Gallery is both a retail shop and an art exhibition space. Sweany renovated a third room into a community arts space for classes and events.
“One thing I’ve done differently from Wandering Turtle is I’ve separated the retail space from the art exhibition area,” Sweany says. The Margaret L. & Paul J Sweany Legacy Gallery, an invitational gallery for fine artists, is dedicated to her parents. “I’ve upped my game here,” Sweany says. “I’m working with established artists who are fairly well-known and well-respected.”
Visitors are greeted by the retail portion of the business. “One of the aspects of Wandering Turtle I’ve kept are the beautiful items,” Sweany says. “Anyone can walk out the door with something beautiful and uplifting.” Juniper Gallery features handcrafted goods such as pottery, jewelry, and homewares, as well as frameable art cards and international fair-trade gifts.
Moving through the brick-walled building, the art gallery is set off as a more reflective space. “I have a lifetime of connections, and I’ve expanded from my parents’ connections,” Sweany says. She laughingly adds, “I just know a lot of artists.”
Sweany located her shop in Spencer at the urging of Denise Sudol, who owns The Dragonfly Gallery with her husband, Mike. “I asked if it would be too much competition to open another art gallery here, and she said, ‘No, the more the merrier!’” Sweany recalls. “That’s how I felt as a founding member of the Gallery Walk in Bloomington. Growing an arts community is important, and it takes cooperation between businesses.”
Visit juniperartgallery.com for more information.
CHECK OUT OUR PHOTO GALLERY BELOW TO PERUSE THE INTERIOR OF JUNIPER GALLERY. (Click on the photo below to start the slideshow. Use the on-screen arrows or the arrows on your keyboard to navigate forward and backward.)