A previously woman-owned, art supply store in Annapolis was recently acquired by Comacell Brown and co-owner, Todd Powell. Art Things is located inside of the multi-disciplinary arts center, Maryland Hall. The art has a long history of being independently owned. Skye Dorsey Vasquez made the recent deal with Brown and Powell.
While a business transition is underway, art creatives who are accustomed to trekking to 801 Chase Street for supplies will have to wait just a little longer to walk through Art Thing’s doors. Brown and Powell told The Annapolis Times newspaper that it would reopen soon, but first, new plans are on the horizon. Purchasing additional stocked items and making effort to jazz up the place a bit, is underway behind closed doors.
“The business has been in existence for almost 56 years, and it has always been a woman-owned business until now,” Brown said. “We will be selling a lot of what the art store already carried which is all different types of art supplies, and books while also adding a few more items like Art Things branded apparel, my own branded spray paint line consisting of eight different colors called “Spitfire Spray” by Art Things, hand crafted candles, resin molds, and more.”
Brown is an art guru who makes art relatable to people who appreciate the celebration of local and cultural figures. The muralist installed numerous works of Black icons in Annapolis. Two of his most popular creations are the Carlester Smith mural, located off West Street at Pinkey’s West Street Liquors, and the Carr’s Beach mural. Anyone who takes a trip to visit MC3 StageOne Lawn at Park Place can find his work there. Brown collaborated on other masterpieces in Orlando, Florida, Harlem, N.Y. and Washington D.C. He specializes in the usage of bright colors, typography, balance of space and abstract backgrounds.
Although the artist is known for displaying his creative depictions in public places, Brown is also a full-time, entrepreneurial spirit who embraces all his skill sets. He is a graphic designer, teaching artist, mentor and CEO of Cell Spitfire Paintings and Designs. Brown’s deep appreciation for art dates to the age of six. He began tracing pictures to draw them from memory.
Brown’s full immersion of art in his life underscores the value of art in the world around us. Powell is a real estate investor and entrepreneur who was aware of Brown’s talent and appreciation for art. Upon learning that Art Things was up for sale, the forward-thinking Annapolitan reached out to Brown to find out if he would be interested in establishing a business partnership.
“We talked in detail and instantly knew we had the same vision for Art Things Annapolis,” Powell said. “We could have easily opened a retail store throughout the city, however I was drawn to the history and legacy of the brand and wanted to be the keeper and position it for the next 56 years. We are about the community and (honoring) our desire to engage a new audience to what we’re doing and have planned.”
Powell noted that reimagining the brand is also on the agenda. This step is inclusive of upgrading technology used in the space. Adding additional programming, such as events, teaching, hiring interns are other goals which are on the horizon at Art Things.
In addition to patronizing guests who seek in-person, experiential treatment, a robust
e-commerce platform is in development. Supplies will also be shipped to customers. A call-to-action fuses moving forward with a spirit of wanting the business to thrive.
“We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do this without the community. So, the obvious support would be to purchase (supplies), refer (customers), and attend events offered by Art Things Annapolis along with its brands and divisions,” Powell said.
He requested that customers who have patronized the brand for the last 56 years continue to do so. This will enable the new owners to offer an intersection of art and hospitality beyond simply selling art supplies.
Brown added that he wants the public to stay up to date about the reopening of Art Things. Please follow the social media pages @ArtThingsAnnapolis and @cellspitfire on all social media platforms.
“We will make an announcement prior to opening up. We just ask for the community’s patience while we sort through things,” Brown said.