The best neighborhoods and towns are filled with hidden treasures and well-kept secrets that their residents know and love.
One such gem in the Tri-Village area is the Goodwill Columbus Art Studio and Gallery.
Located in Grandview Heights, the gallery opened in 2005 and has been in its current location, following a major renovation to the entire Goodwill building, since 2007.
Photos courtesy of Jane Carroll
“They gave us the front window and really highlighted us, which was really exciting,” says Deborah Griffing, studio manager. Griffing has been part of the operation since it began.
The studio is a space for people with disabilities or other barriers to become professional artists, says Media Relations Manager Jane Carroll.
“It’s also a portal for the public to come in and experience their art and be a part of that, and know they’re supporting something completely amazing,” Carroll says.
All proceeds from the art shows go back into the program.
The artists who create in the studio typically find their way there through Goodwill day programs such as young adult services, the Sage Senior Services program, or work and community services.
While some of the artists have experimented with art before, others are trying their hand at it for the first time. Each artist receives from the staff an individualized program that may include anything from simple encouragement to adaptive equipment, such as a head-pointer that was created for an artist without use of his hands. The artists take it from there, creating art on paper, canvas, scarves and even lampshades.
“One of the things that I think is really rewarding about this is watching somebody find their voice,” says Kate Sturman Gorman, a resident artist staff member.
The artists have been able to parlay their creativity into income.
In 2015, the artists completed 337 works of art for sale and sold 251 of them for $18,444. Of that total, $9,198 went directly to the artists themselves. These numbers are even more impressive when one realizes that the average price per piece is less than $75.
Pieces have also been shown at The Ohio State University, Urban Arts Space and the Columbus Museum of Art. Next year, the gallery has shows planned at the Upper Arlington Concourse Gallery and Art Access Gallery in Bexley.
The studio gets many of its supplies in the form of donations from Blick Art Materials and the Lamp Shade. Blick has donated flat files, a matte cutter, paper, paint and brushes, and it also allows the studio to purchase supplies at a discounted rate. The Lamp Shade not only donates the lampshades that the artists use, but they also sells the finished works of art in their store, returning all of the money to the studio.
The Goodwill gallery’s goals are to continue to grow and allow for more artist participation, which will hopefully lead to greater sales, more prominent art shows and a new appreciation for the artists and their abilities. Griffing also hopes the Tri-Village area can help turn the studio into a mainstay of the central Ohio art scene.
“The misconception is that this is a population that takes only,” she says. “This is a population that gives so much; they just need to be more discovered.”
A look at some of the artists
John Leslie says he didn’t know he was going to be an artist until he started creating in the studio a few years ago. Now, he plans to stay until he retires. His art has been on display at the Columbus Museum of Art, but his favorite part about the gallery and studio is getting to know everyone there.
Kathleen Stebbins likes coming to the studio, especially to draw, because she finds it relaxing and soothing. She’s had some notable success, too.
“I made a scarf; it was silk with flowers, and I sold it,” she says. “I just love coming here.”
While Janette Casey just started coming to the studio a few weeks ago, she knows it has had in impact on her life already.
“I used to be a person who stayed indoors and didn’t bother anybody, but I wanted to do something, and finally they said I could do this, and I said, ‘Yes, I love drawing.’”
Her main focus so far has been drawing realistic depictions of animals.
“I can show what my talent is,” she says.
Minnie Casey (no relation to Janette) found her way back to art through the studio.
“I used to always draw, but my friend told me about the art studio, and I thought I’d give it a shot,” she says.
During the past year, Minnie has found that drawing, especially cats and churches, makes her feel relaxed.
Bob Valasek is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.