Solstice Show Kicks Off Grand Opening of the Tobin Gallery: Top Floor Art Store Brings Winter Magic to the Fourth Floor of Posie Row

The Top Floor Art Store on Duckworth Street, with its comfy armchairs, woven rugs, and sunny artwork made me feel right at home. And that’s the warm welcome that Molly Graham and Lily Taylor, resident artists and co-owners, want give all of the visitors to their store and The Tobin Gallery, their new gallery space across the hall. “This gallery is a tribute to people who have helped us and a future tribute to people who will help us. It's for community access,” said Taylor.

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Graham and Taylor kicked off the grand opening of the Tobin Gallery, with a show titled Solstice on March 23. “Solstice is a gateway unto rebirth. The show will revolve around ideas of renaissance, luck, magic, and change. In the midst of these cold winter months, we wish to spark the creativity of our peers and create an immersive experience for all to enjoy,” reads the store’s website.

Below hundreds of colorful pom poms suspended from the ceiling, the Solstice show offers a wonderfully varied selection of wall hangings, prints, installation, a cake book, and even a nook for photos. The show is up until April 6 and is open to all those who wander up the many old stairs of 210 Duckworth Street.

Artwork featured in the gallery is available for purchase, as well as prints of select pieces. In addition to Graham and Taylor’s own work, Solstice features artwork by Stephanie Gallant, Natalie Higdon,, Shannon Pomeroy, Virginia Berry, Robyn Flannigan, Charlene Denief, Madison White, Katie Cull, and Miki Weghsteen. A cake book and baked goods by Sara Downton of Downton Bakes were also in the show.

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The Tobin Gallery is named for the historic building that houses the Top Floor Art store, Posie Row & Co., and various other businesses at 210 Duckworth Street. “Part of it, being on the top floor, is that you get to walk through this historical building and look at the tin ceilings and the original moldings, and there’s even doorbells on the walls up here where it used to be a maid’s quarters. So you get that part of the history of downtown St. John’s as well,” said Graham.

That formerly empty room across the hall inspired Graham and Taylor. They wanted to create a shared space open to anybody. “We really wanted to bring something to people that you didn’t have to pay a lot of money for, or it was optional to pay money for,” said Taylor. “We really wanted to make this space, and we’ll probably continue to make this space, available to people to just come in and enjoy.”

The Top Floor Art Store opened in December of 2018. Graham, a Newfoundland native, and Taylor, originally from Ontario, moved to St. John’s after finishing their degrees at OCAD University. Anita Carroll, Graham’s mother and owner of Posie Row & Co., pitched the idea of opening an art store, and they were sold. “All the artwork happening in St. John’s is the reason why we moved here,” said Graham.

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They began hosting workshops, such as weaving, bookbinding, and embroidery in early February of 2019. “We noticed that a lot of art classes around are a big commitment, like a six-week course and so expensive. So many people are busy nowadays that we aimed our classes to be a three-hour class and you leave with something finished,” Graham said of their workshops. Classes range from $10 to $35 and include tea, coffee, and snacks. Workshops are listed on their website, and members of the listserv can sign up for classes first.

The Tobin Art Gallery will have another open call for a summer show. Taylor and Graham are interested in including more ceramics and installation. Updates can be found through the Top Floor Art Store’s website.