Richmond art shop brings the community together
on October 29, 2019
Less than 10 years ago, Jacinto Castillo wouldn’t show his artwork to anyone. Today, he and his wife, Kelly, run a cozy enterprise in Point Richmond going by the name of “Mom & Pop Art Shop.” The art haven not only sells Castillo’s and his wife’s art, but also showcases a myriad of unique, handmade pieces, ranging from 1900s antiques to jewelry, sculptures and paintings from about 100 artists from all over the Bay Area.
Castillo, 42 years old, is a first-generation American citizen, born in San Francisco. During his childhood, he remembers his father, a renowned musician in Mexico, frequently traveling for long periods. Often times, due to the nature of his father’s job, they lived in a lot of different places. However, he points out, one thing remained constant: “There was always music in the house.” As a young boy, he resonated with this music until it drew him into the world of art. Subsequently, he began to sketch.
Upon graduating high school in 1996, Castillo attended Universal Technical Institute, in Phoenix, Arizona, where he studied computer-aided design. Thereafter, he worked as a computer-aided drafter at an architectural firm, a stint that lasted about seven years before his job became obsolete. Unknown to him then, the experience was a crucial piece in his journey to opening an art store and gallery on 24 W. Richmond Ave. a decade later.
Kelly Nicolaisen, now Castillo’s wife, was the final piece to the puzzle. With her help, Castillo set up a booth at a festival where he sold his first piece of art. “I kind of had to get pushed by my wife to get myself out there.” Before meeting her, he adds, ‘I didn’t really show my art to anybody.’ In 2016, they moved from San Francisco to Point Richmond to open ‘Mom and Pop’, an idea they toyed with for about five years.
Now, Castillo an art shop entrepreneur, dabbles in architectural sketches owing to his professional background. He enjoys drawing buildings; especially those that bring his clients’ memories to life. “I would love to paint the house you grew up in, or a stadium you loved to go to as a kid,” he writes in one of his Facebook posts.
“We wanted to invite all the artists we used to work with in booths to create their own kind of niche in the Bay Area,” says Castillo. With about $20,000 worth of consignment from local artists, and personal savings, Mom & Pop was open for business. Castillo or “Pop,” as he is popularly known to clients, is the face of the business while Nicolaisen manages things on the back end. The couple runs the only art shop in Richmond that has integrated essential art supplies and artworks from talented local artists. The shop also offers a range of DIY art classes for kids. Some of the classes teach graffiti, collage and water coloring. Additionally, the shop organizes and hosts family-friendly events which include art openings and holiday-themed parties.
While the business reached its break-even point in about a year, Castillo says generating enough income to “pay rent and make some money” remains a challenge. Art, he says, is a very hard business from which to try make a living.
“People don’t need it to survive,” he says, adding, “When the economy fluctuates, the last thing people want to buy is art and art supplies.” To cushion himself from this reality, he tends bar a couple of nights a week in downtown San Francisco.
When asked what makes him most proud about the shop, he passionately speaks about the role “Mom and Pop” has played in bringing the community together. “We get to see all the people from the community,” he says, adding, “The Mayor of Richmond comes to our shop. It’s become a very tight part of our community.”
Castillo is optimistic about the future of Mom & Pop and encourages artists to venture out and open their own shops, especially in little towns. Such shops, he says, give everyone “that warm feeling they felt when they were a kid.”
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