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Art in bloom at Artists' Open Studio

Annie Zelm • Feb 10, 2012 at 10:35 AM

It’s a chilly February day, but inside, bluebirds and stallions are coming to life. Rays of sunshine and impressionist-style flowers sprout from bold brushstrokes.

Here, coloring inside the lines isn’t so important.

Sometimes an artist will point to the green paint when he really means white.

And artist Linda Damron greets everyone with a high five and tells them how super they are.

Known as the Artists’ Open Studio, it’s a place for adults with developmental disabilities to tap into their creativity.

About 35 Christie Lane clients regularly come here or to the ceramic studio at Christie Lane Industries, where they pulverize glass bottles to make customized ceramic tiles. Both studios are also open to anyone in the community. There’s guidance but no formal instruction, and the artists can focus on whatever captures their imagination.

For Angi Lesch, it’s bold, brightly-colored shapes.

A mosaic-inspired barn started to take shape Tuesday afternoon, but on other days, she’s been moved to make patterns of circles reminiscent of Kandinsky.

“I just love art,” the 27-year-old Willard woman said. “I make all sorts of things.”

Like many of the artists, Lesch sells her work for a profit.

Some of the proceeds go back to the studio to provide supplies, but she uses her share to buy video games for her PlayStation.

The studio is sponsored by the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities and also receives donations.

Creating work for the public to see and purchase gives the artists a sense of accomplishment, studio director Lynda Stoneham said.

“Our artists are just as expressive as any other,” she said.

Two of the artists, Mark Cook and Andy Kirkpatrick, have their work featured on the website for VSA Ohio, a state organization for artists with disabilities.

Norwalk resident Susan Adkins, 53, works in the wine industry but likes to join Christie Lane clients in the studio to experiment with watercolors in her free time.

“It’s very laid-back and mellow,” she said. “Nobody’s judging your work.”


• Work from the Artists’ Open Studio will be on display starting Friday at The Art Junction, 2634 Prairie St., New Haven. An opening reception is scheduled from 6:30-9 p.m. Regular gallery hours are from 4:30-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through March 3. The studio’s annual exhibit will be from 1-7 p.m. June 15 at the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center in Norwalk.

• Local artists are invited to work with their own supplies from 1-3:15 p.m. Tuesdays in the Christie Lane main building and in the ceramic studio from 1-3:15 p.m. Thursdays at Christie Lane Industries.

• To purchase artwork, contact Lynda Stoneham at 419-668-8840, ext. 141, or email l.stoneham@hurondd.com.

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