ArtsJunktion is a starving artist's best friend.
Located behind local art supply shop cre8ive supplies & services in the Exchange District, ArtsJunktion is a volunteer-run charitable organization that collects reusable materials and manufacturers’ waste. The junk they accumulate is offered back to the creative community as a free resource for artists.
“The idea is that the things donors bring in are all raw material for art,” says Andrea Bell Stuart, ArtsJunktion co-chair.
Andrea and her co-chair Melanie Janzen were inspired when they visited a similar resource in Toronto.
“We’re both teachers so we had March break off and we went to visit a place called ArtsJunktion in Toronto, which was affiliated with the schools and only teachers could use it,” says Andrea.
“We came back and thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a place like that here and anybody could use it?”
ArtsJunktion opened its doors seven years ago and the junk has been flowing ever since. Everything in the warehouse is donated – either by businesses, artists, or regular people with quality junk.
“Sometimes artists retire from their studios downtown,” Andrea says.
“They keep a bit of their stuff but get rid of everything else. It’s nice to know there’s a place like this they can give their stuff to and know it’s going to support other artists. They don’t need to throw anything out.”
The space provides a transitional home for used art supplies, but also raw materials and scraps that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Anyone is welcome to drop in during the depot’s open hours to browse through the junk and take home whatever supplies they need at no charge.
“We get random junk and different materials, wood and cork and plastics and metal. Some of it’s new, some of it’s used, and some stuff you’d never even be able to buy at the store,” Andrea says.
As educators, Andrea and Melanie support teaching students about environmental stewardship through art. They see ArtsJunktion as a resource for teachers who are required to integrate sustainability into their curriculum.
“What was happening in schools before we arrived was, the parent of a child might have some leftover items they know would be great for art, so they drop it off at the school, but it would go into storage and nobody would ever use it. Eventually the custodian gets fed up with it and it gets thrown in the garbage, or it’s there for 20 years and isn’t touched.”
“ArtsJunktion was a way to start circulating what’s already out there.”
The space also has a classroom and offers a variety of workshops hosted by local artists. Unlike run-of-the-mill painting or craft classes, ingenuity is key during these presentations and creative use of unlikely objects is promoted.
“None of the workshops would ever suggest using all the same materials or doing all the same end products,” Andrea says.
ArtsJunktion currently has over 1500 members, and is continuing to grow. At the front door, there’s a guestbook where members are asked to sign in and later declare what they take with them when they leave.
“A lot of people are starting to find out about us and are spreading the word,” Andrea says.
“Membership is free, though we are hesitant to use that word because we always appreciate a donation to help pay the rent.”
ArtsJunktion is also part of First Fridays, a monthly event where artists in the Exchange District open up their studios to the public.
Whether you're just starting out and don't have the funds to pursue your artistic side, or you're a seasoned artist with a knack for working with reclaimed materials, ArtsJunktion can be the perfect place for inspiration. You never know what gems you might find among the junk!
Tuesday - Thursday 1:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
312 B William Ave.
(East Side, Loading Dock Entrance)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada