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Longtime Locals Add to Main Street Retail with Raw Materials and Winstead Adams

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, June 06, 2008, at 02:41PM
Opening Ed Fuentes

Final preparations: Angel Esguerra replaces a light bulb in the entryway to Winstead Adams' show FIRST | LAST at 436 S. Main street.

Jim and Celia Winstead need little introduction for many Downtowners. The pair have lived Downtown for longer than most, individually before getting married in the summer of 2006. This past week they announced (Jim, Celia) two new ventures: an art and architecture supplies store named Raw Materials and Winstead Adams Projects, a gallery collaboration with brother-in-law James Adams.

Winstead Adams opens its first show today, in the Main street space that will soon house Raw Materials. Cleverly titled FIRST | LAST, it features the work of eleven Los Angeles artists. The show is open from noon - 9pm on Friday and Saturday, noon to 8pm on Sunday, and during next Thursday's Downtown Art Walk.

This week I caught up with Jim and Celia over email to ask them about retail, art and a changing Main street.

ERIC RICHARDSON: You two have never seemed pressed for things to do, so why the move to open a retail store? I know Jim has been kicking around retail ideas for quite a while now, including a pretty serious look at DVD rentals a few years back.

JIM WINSTEAD: Like you said, I actually took a look at opening a DVD rental place back before Old Bank DVD opened. My dad was a small business owner, and I think I just have a little of that in my blood. It didn't work for me at the time because I was on my own, and wasn't willing to jump completely out of my cushy job and throw myself into doing DVD rentals. But the goal of opening a business in downtown never left me.

CELIA WINSTEAD: I'm doing this at gunpoint.

ERIC: Why art & architecture supplies?

CELIA: I was looking for art supplies one day and didn't want to get in my car to get them. I asked other artists where they buy canvas and the answers weren't good. I asked Ed Fuentes where he buys art supplies and he couldn't give me a good answer either. He was just blown away that I paint.

JIM: We learned that a lot of the local artists were going to the Westside, or Pasadena, or were having to make do with the couple of smaller architectural supplies stores that are a little closer. We hate to leave downtown, and we don't think we're alone in that.

ERIC: What's something that you'll be selling that you think people haven't been able to get Downtown or will be particularly interested in?

JIM: Right now, we're really looking for people to tell us what they want from an art supply store, so we have a survey up on our website. We plan to have a solid selection of what we see as the fundamentals of art and architectural supplies -- paints, canvas, paper, inks, pens, and brushes. Once we have a handle on that, we'll build from there.

CELIA: We're also looking into establishing some of our own store brands, perhaps starting with some private-label acrylics.

ERIC: You've both been Downtown for a long time. What's the change or project that you're most excited about right now (and no fair saying your store)?

JIM: We're excited about what Monica, Kristen, and Ricki are doing with The Nickel Diner.

CELIA: And of course we can't wait for Cole's to reopen. It won't be the same, but it's still a special place.

JIM: Seeing the life on Main Street spread down from 4th and Main has been really inspiring. The retailers and restaurant owners along Main Street are a tight group, and have been really supportive of us.

ERIC: Starting up the store and the gallery at the same time is ambitious. How did that come about?

JIM: When we first decided to look into doing a retail store, we knew we wanted to at least devote some of the space to showing art. As we started looking for spaces, and came close to signing a lease on one in particular, we found that we really wanted to make the gallery separate and distinct from the store.

CELIA: Of course, having our brother-in-law James Adams on board as a partner has really helped fuel our gallery plans. He curated last fall's Greater Los Angeles MFA Exhibition, so we knew he had a great line on some of the amazing emerging artists in the area.

ERIC: Sort of a free answer here... What's something I didn't touch on that you think's worth getting out there?

JIM: I don't think we've thanked Brady Westwater enough for helping us find a retail space. Although at the end of the day we just called the number on the leasing sign hanging in the window, he helped talk us up to our landlord, and talk us into the space we're going into.

CELIA: In the back of our minds, there's a quote from Ernst Fischer that my sister Laura had on her blog that inspires us: "I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art." We're just doing what we can to make that happen.

Raw Materials will be at 436 S. Main street, and is the site for FIRST | LAST, Winstead Adams' first show.

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