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January 17, 2022

Local teaching artist moves into new studio in downtown Watsonville

WATSONVILLE—Judy Gittelsohn has big plans for the downtown Watsonville arts scene.

For the past two months, Gittelsohn has been slowly but surely moving her artwork, supplies and more into her new studio at 430 Main St. Large paintings line the walls of the small yet roomy space located just a few doors down from Taylor Office Supply and Foreverfly Skate & Apparel.

Called Studio Judy G, Gittelsohn hopes the location will serve not only as a workspace for her to paint and show off her work, but also where other community members can come to visit and learn about art. 

So far, she said, it is going well. 

“People often wave when they walk by—it’s very sweet,” she said. “I feel very welcome here.”

Gittelsohn was at first looking to construct a studio at home, but plans fell through. In July, she was walking around downtown when she noticed the space was available. After dealing with zoning issues and presenting her ideas to the city of Watsonville, she was finally approved to move in.

“I was like, ‘hello Watsonville!’” Gittelsohn said. “It was such a great moment.”

Gittelsohn’s plans for Studio Judy G are a work in progress. She wants to use it as her own studio in the later afternoons, but in the mornings and on the weekends invite people inside for small workshops, presentations, music events and more.

Gittelsohn already leads workshops with the company Golden Paints and has recently aligned herself with Hope Services to teach art to people with disabilities. She hopes the new studio will serve as a space to work on such projects, both virtually and in person.

Along with photographer friend Emily Reynolds, Gittelsohn will also use the studio as a central location for Why Watsonville, a movement aiming to garner interest in the city. They hope to invite local organizations, farms and more to highlight the work they are doing, as well as offer a space for tourists to learn about the Pajaro Valley. 

“I want to show people that Watsonville is a fabulous destination … all the diversity, the old buildings and the history,” she said. “I love and appreciate this community so much, and I want to show it off to people.”

Gittelsohn and her husband, Greg Gatwood, recently opened a small artist’s retreat in Aromas called the Git Gat Gîte. They plan to use the retreat in tandem with the downtown studio.

“For instance … I have a botanical illustrator staying at the retreat now, who’s writing a book,” she said. “In theory, she could then come here and do a presentation. The Git is the incubator … and this could be the auditorium.”

Currently, the studio’s walls display mostly work by Gittelsohn and her mother, Shirley Gittelsohn. She has dubbed the unofficial show “Me, My Mother and Others.”

But Gittelsohn says she hopes to bring in other artists to show their own work in the future.

“I want this to be a place for people to gather,” Gittelsohn said. “A really special, educational and supportive space. I’m a really social person … I like to talk about what I’m working on, and hear what others are doing. I want to share my passions with people.”

For information visit judyg.com or call 288-0010.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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