Jaro goes Arty

Jaro handicrafts are attractive and useful souvenirs
Since the 1960s many locals and expatriates in Johor Baru choose to buy JARO handicrafts not only for their unique quality but because they are made by special people.  Fans of JARO products know that every JARO product is special because its quality and workmanship is matched by the determination and effort that’s put into its creation.  

Founded in 1952 as a rehabilitation center for TB patients, JARO or Johor Area Rehabilitation Organization has evolved into an established rehabilitation center, recognized for its quality training and products. 

Jaro products are special because they are
made by special people
JARO is a registered charitable society that manages a sheltered workshop that caters to the rehabilitation needs of the physically and intellectually disabled, spastics, visual or hearing impaired, the chronically ill and those who for personal reasons, have difficulty in getting regular employment.  They are given opportunities to be gainfully employed in a creative and productive manner in the bookbinding, basketry, tailoring and handicraft workshops.  While its range of products continues to be attractive souvenirs for visitors, a new generation of people in Johor who have a similar passion for handicrafts, are still unfamiliar with JARO.

So when JARO’s General Manager, Annie Thomas, approached Sofia Cole of Arty Party Johor Baru to hold an event in collaboration with JARO, the charity project took off with a life of its own as Arty Party has links with a wide spectrum of creative people.  As they pooled their exciting ideas and resources, an interesting programme of art activities emerged for the day-long event held in JARO on Jan 11.  Dubbed “Creative Connections,” the event had stalls for handicrafts, food, workshops and art activities as well as a stage for performances of acoustic music, poetry recitals and stand-up comedy, with part of the proceeds going towards JARO.

Young entrepreneurs Mohd Rideuan Burhanudin and
sister, Shafika, promoting products imported from Thailand
Arty Party Johor Baru, a brainchild of three ladies with a passion for the arts, has established itself as a platform for local artists to showcase and promote their work to the public.  Since its inception in December 2012, Sofia Cole, Jess Wong and Jennifer Neng have organised several themed arts and crafts events like Santa’s Last Minute Shopping, Art by the Bay, Mingle, Chat and Get Inspired and the Arty Party at the 10th Johor Baru Arts Festival.  Through a strong network among people who are passionate about the arts in Johor Baru, they brought together an eclectic list of handicraft artists and performing artistes to participate in “Creative Connections.”
Melissa Dahlan [Left] with Jaro committee members,
Datin Pat Lim [Centre] and Sumedha Sehgal [Right]
The stage came to live in the afternoon when budding artistes under AGAS, the acronym for Gerakan Anak Muda Gagah d’Selatan, loosely translated as the Gallant Youth Movement of the South, entertained with music, poetry and comedy shows.  Local artists from Johor Sketcher were invited to showcase their art while visitors participated in workshops for Still Life Drawing and Claypot Painting.  Art, craft and food stalls with a variety of handicrafts and services kept visitors browsing around in JARO before buying items of their choice.

Most of the participants like baking enthusiast, Melissa Dahlan of Kek and Kookies, said that she connected with Arty Party through the social network and was virtually unaware of JARO before that event.  Her passion for baking is apparent from her keen introduction to the range of decorated cup-cakes and cake-in-a-jars.  She explained that while cup-cakes like her delicious Mocca Walnut drizzled with Salted Caramel are baked, the cake-in-a-jar varieties are steamed in a traditional double-boil method. 

Dayu M. Selim's henna art draws a steady
stream of visitors to her booth
Among the participants in the event was Cecilia Por of City Ladies who specialises in handcrafted bling-bling items like handphone casings that are decorated by glittering gems.  Azyan Hamzah of Lucky Artwork promoted her handcrafted journals and guest books while henna design artist Dayu M. Selim of Dayu Design kept busy painting designs on her customers’ hands. 

Through “Creative Connections,” visitors and local artisans like these had the opportunity to creatively connect with JARO – one of the pioneers of quality handicrafts in Johor Baru.

JARO is managed by Chairman Dato’ Jimmy Low Boon Hong and a Committee of socially conscious professionals.  The Jaro showroom is open Sunday to Thursday from 8.00am to 5.00pm, and closed on Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays.  It is located along Jalan Sungai Chat and has retail outlets in Johor Baru City Square and Holiday Plaza.  Tel: 07 – 224 5632.  

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 20 January 2014

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