Arts Council moves into new digs

Open house set for Dec. 3; enrollment open for winter classes

Jennifer Laine (from left), Heidi Jumper and Amanda Chiado of the San Benito County Arts Council, standing inside the new Art Depot, show a set of posters that are being displayed throughout the county to encourage residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

For the past four years, the San Benito County Arts Council operated in two separate locations across the street from each other in downtown Hollister. At just under 2,000 square feet combined, the spaces worked out well for its needs, constantly holding art classes, exhibits and other pre-pandemic events.

But the biggest problem with the Fifth Street locations was the lack of storage space. Where could the artists store their supplies? In addition to traditional materials, such items also included 200 ukuleles.

That question has been answered.

The Arts Council moved two blocks away to 35 Fifth St., Suite D, inside the historic train depot in downtown Hollister that was built in the 1860s, which houses three other businesses. It will celebrate its new space with an open house and exhibit on Dec. 3.

The Arts Council moved out of the ARTSpace and Annex on the 200 block of Fifth Street in the summer, as the building that housed the Annex was sold, with the new owner planning to convert it into an office or retail space, said Executive Director Jennifer Laine.

Laine said the council connected with the owners of Oasis Gym for Women, which was closing its business inside the train depot, and quickly envisioned the space as the new location for the art gallery.

The 2,600-square-foot location will include art exhibit and workshop space on the first floor, with administrative offices on the second floor.

“It’s working out great,” Laine said. “It’s so nice to have everything under one roof.”

Most of the space’s renovation, which was nearing its end on Monday, was made possible thanks to the efforts of volunteers donating time and resources. Art Soza, who led the renovation, gave a shout-out to Omar Armenta of Ohms Handyman Services, who played a large role in the work.

Soza said the work included removing the decades-old tile and replacing it with wood flooring, along with removing mirrors left over from the gym and adding track lighting to give the exhibit space a soft glow. An outdoor patio is also included in the space.

“I think it came out marvelous,” Soza said. “It’s going to be a great space for them.”

The Arts Council plans to offer indoor and outdoor learning, meeting, office and exhibition space beginning the first week of January.

To celebrate the move, it will present its Small Works exhibition and art giveaway on Dec. 3 from 5-7pm.

The Small Works exhibition features original artworks, no larger than 7-by-9 inches, created and donated by more than 30 local artists, both established and up-and-coming, and includes paintings, ceramics, jewelry, prints and more. 

“It’s a really diverse group of artists and art mediums,” said Heidi Jumper, community engagement and marketing manager for the Arts Council.

In addition to viewing the work, supporters can win a piece of art by making a donation and selecting the artwork of their choice. For every $5 donation, donors will be entered into a drawing to win one of their favorite pieces. Donations can be made through the end of the day Dec. 6, and winners will be announced that week. 

Supporters can also view the art and enter the giveaway at the online exhibition page at

To make arrangements for in-person viewing, email

The Small Works Exhibition & Art Giveaway is part of the Arts Council’s end-of-year Art of Giving campaign that raises funds in support of arts programs for local youth. 

The Arts Council is now enrolling students in Winter Session Art Classes at the new Art Depot, which will run January through March and includes art classes and workshops for youth and adults in a variety of different media. Some of the classes offered include drawing fundamentals, studio art, writers’ lab, creating with clay and more.

All classes are taught by professional teaching artists and continue in month-long sessions, which begin the first week of the month. 

To register and to view the full class schedule, visit

For information about the Winter Art Classes or to inquire about scholarships, contact the Arts Council at 831.636.2787 or