Knightville art co-op adds to the 'SoHo of SoPo'

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SOUTH PORTLAND — An art and jewelry cooperative has joined the Knightville art scene. 

SoPo Art Studios at 96 Ocean St. is the new home of painter Mary Anne Cary and jewelers Tina Dinsmore and Lori Perkins. The artists moved into the space at the corner of Ocean and D streets last month and said they are hoping to eventually feature additional local work, such as photography or ceramics.

They met about four years ago while working alongside each other in another nearby studio, at Ocean and Sawyer streets, and eventually decided to create their own studio and gallery space. 

Cary and Dinsmore, who both live in Cape Elizabeth, said they appreciate the social aspect of working together, as well as sharing the cost, which allows them to operate an independent studio and focus on their custom designs. 

They said the space feels like it’s still a work in progress, and the leased studio now holds about three to five years worth of their work. Both artists are self-taught. 

Cary and Dinsmore said the developing neighborhood is becoming known as the “SoHo of SoPo,” a reference to New York City’s trendy “South of Houston Street” neighborhood, dotted with shops, galleries and restaurants. 

Dinsmore said she has maintained a passion for making jewelry since childhood. She focuses on custom designs and repair work and is enrolled in a gemology course. All of her pieces are handmade and based on her own designs, taking inspiration from florals, the cosmos, and architecture. She works with gold, silver and various gemstones

Dinsmore lived in Arizona for nearly a decade, when she began adding to a collection of rare turquoise no longer being mined. Also taking from that time in the Southwest, she said Native American art has greatly influenced the design of her pieces. 

Dinsmore said what she enjoys most about making jewelry is its sculptural aspects, and hands-on quality. Another aspect that influences her work is that jewelry is personal and can be passed through generations. 

Cary works mostly with oil paint as a medium and said she is inspired by the Maine Coast and natural landscapes. She has an art background, studying visual design, and later worked in graphic design. She has been painting for about a decade, and has used watercolors and pastels, but said she prefers working with oil for its vivid color.

Regular co-op hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 

The studio will also participate in a “Ladies Night” in the neighborhood, from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, when 17 businesses will have extended hours, raffles and special offers in advance of Mother’s Day.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net or on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

Tina Dinsmore, left, and Mary Anne Cary in their newly opened studio and shop at 96 Ocean St. in South Porltand’s Knightville neighborhood.

Mary Anne Cary works on a piece at 96 Ocean St. in South Portland.

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