A new art studio by a Phoenix couple is bringing art, and monsters, to the downtown Grand Rapids art scene.
Cocoon Art Space, 327 S. Division Ave., is owned by Josie Garcia and Tedd Smith and features an art studio, gallery and space to sell artisan goods.
The studio opened Nov. 25, and will make its debut to the public during the SoDiv Shopping Spree Saturday, Dec. 3, alongside nine other South Division businesses.
Garcia and Smith are relatively new to West Michigan, having relocated to the area from Phoenix in 2021 with their two daughters.
The pair are excited to see where their new adventure takes them.
Garcia said the move was motivated in part by a desire to “grow personally and professionally in a more close-knit community and in a place where we might make a difference to ourselves and others. We wanted to live more seasonally and be close to aging parents. Family is super important to us.
“Since moving here last summer, our experience here has been great. Working with people in the community while growing our monster business made us realize we wanted to pursue further creative business opportunities in Grand Rapids.”
Garcia and Smith originally started Cocoon in 2017 as a pop-up art space in Phoenix. Now, their brick and mortar location stands at around 1,500 square feet, 1,000 of which is gallery and retail space, while the rest is a working art studio for in-house art production and will be used to host workshops and classes.
“We sell fine art, artisan-made goods such as journals, notebooks, greeting cards, prints and art-centric products like ceramic palettes, art kits — plus the handmade monsters,” Garcia said. “We source products from local makers, and the other goods are made in our studio. Eventually we will add specialty art supplies and some art-themed home decor.”
Garcia added they are in the process of scheduling exhibits to be held at Cocoon throughout the year. She said next year they plan to host art camps for kids and workshops for adults and are currently planning their schedule for early spring 2023.
In addition to being an art space, Cocoon will serve as a home base for Smith and Garcia’s Monstorium line of products, labeled “handcrafted monster collectables” on the brand’s website. The couple designs and creates monster characters that are produced as stuffed animals, wooden ornaments, stickers, totes and apparel.
“Since the end of 2017, we have continually evolved our offerings of handmade goods from their humble beginnings as decorative elements in an art gallery, to a full-time business endeavor that has grown into a myriad of creepy-cute products,” Garcia said. “Our small business is currently active in local Michigan events, arts and crafts markets and now Cocoon Art Space.
“The Monstorium is home to small-batch monster goods made of wood, fabric, paper and clay for the enjoyment of all people and pets. We illustrate, sew, sculpt and paint all of Monstorium’s creepy cute critters to spread joy, have fun and fulfill the needs of the young at heart. From our customers’ experience, our little monsters also provide comfort. They are also great for decor, gifts and, especially, good vibes.”
According to Garcia, she and Smith are “visual artists/makers with a shared history in creative business, arts programming and management. Our preferred mediums are acrylic, watercolor, paper and textiles.”
Garcia grew up in Arizona, while Smith is a Michigan native and Ferris State University alum. Together, they bring the expertise they gleaned from years in the Phoenix art community to Grand Rapids and hope to help the West Michigan art scene to thrive.
“What motivates and excites us in our new venture is being a part of the positive growth that is already happening in the SoDiv corridor,” Garcia said. “Working alongside the very supportive and encouraging business owners — not only on our block but along SoDiv — has made the process much more enjoyable. There has also been such a warm reception from the public and the local agencies in place to support the small business network (from) the staff at Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to the staff at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.”
Cocoon Art Space is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 12-6 p.m. Sunday.
Smith and Garcia plan to serve hot drinks and treats during the SoDiv Shopping Spree, which will run 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday.