An art shop to fill the vacant space of the town hall



KITCHENER – The city has been leasing a top retail location from a local entrepreneur in hopes of livening up an empty space since February.

Lauren Weinberg hopes her new store, Open Sesame: Arts, Books and Objects, will be a local source of small home furnishings and design items that people might otherwise be looking for in Toronto. But she also hopes it’s a vibrant place that celebrates local artists.

Weinberg moved to the Chicago area just over a year ago, when her husband was offered a job at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. She had worked as an art editor and was interested in connecting with the art scene here.

City officials said the prominent space in the west wing of City Hall has been vacant since February. With a sluggish economy and the construction of trams making access to the city center at times difficult, the city began to actively seek a tenant who could bring the window-filled space to Carl Zehr Square to life.

In addition to selling prints and art books, design pieces, ceramics and jewelry, Weinberg plans to hold small art exhibitions and rotating workshops in the 1,150 square foot space. As a mother of young children, she wants this to be a kid-friendly place that parents skating in the square can drop by to browse.

“I was really interested in having a space for contemporary art, a welcoming place, where people can meet contemporary art and where it just feels very accessible,” she said.

She hopes to organize “as many public events as possible,” such as workshops on knitting or bookbinding, a book club for young mothers, a workshop for teens or the elderly on zine publishing, and plans to collaborate with other local arts organizations.

“This would add vibrancy to Carl Zehr Square, thereby contributing to the community and enhancing the downtown experience,” says a report from Monika Grau, City Business Development Officer.

Weinberg hopes the store, for which she signed a one-year lease, will appeal to downtown workers, people in the tech industry, and people who move into downtown condos, and use the media. social media to inform customers as new stock arrives.

The boutique will have a provisional opening on October 31 for the Halloween Night / Shift festival, with an exhibition by Amanda Rhodenizer, a Fine Arts graduate from the University of Waterloo.


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