May 18, 2009

Heart to Art Galleria - Marietta, Ohio

Yesterday, Mark and I took a beautiful drive via Rt 550 from Athens over to Marietta, Ohio for the Grand Opening of the Heart to Art Galleria at 208 Front Street. I learned of the Heart to Art Galleria shop, from WASCO, Inc. “WASCO is a public nonprofit agency created by parents in the 1950s to create vocational opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.”

The Galleria interested me because I was looking for an outlet for my son, Bryce's, arts and crafts. Bryce works at a sheltered workshop in Ohio, but didn't have a way to sell the jewelry and drawings he's created. Passionworks, the wonderful art program for Athens County residents, is unable to take non-Athens County residents' work into their store at this time, and they suggested I contact WASCO. Long story short, Bryce has made several drawings, bracelets, earrings and bookmarks to sell in the Heart to Art Galleria and this, as you can imagine, makes his mom pretty happy.

Marietta, as you might know, is a wonderful town on the Ohio River. Described on its visitor website as follows:

“…a picturesque river town with European ambience. Located on the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, Marietta was the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory, established in 1788. Its brick streets are lined with lush hardwood trees and opulent Victorian homes. With lots of history, two waterways, and a bustling downtown, it was ranked 79 among Best Smaller Places by Forbes magazine in 2000. The vibrant historic district offers many distinctive stores, antique shops, boutiques, and galleries, as well as several independent restaurants and cozy cafes.”

Nancy Harris, Business Development Manager at WASCO, took the time to answer my questions so folks could learn more about the shop.

JPW: Nancy, I see the

dichrioc jewelry sold online on WASCO’s site; it’s beautiful! How long have WASCO artists been creating and selling this jewelry?
NH: We received a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council in 2005.

JPW: How was the decision made to go from selling jewelry online to having a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Marietta with a variety of products?
NH: WASCO’s mission is to assist adults with developmental disabilities to be a viable part of their community. “There are a variety of ways in which we do this,” states Jan Powell, Director of WASCO. “Exploring employment opportunities is our main mission, but at the same time we want Marietta to see our commitment to be involved in our community”.

JPW: What sort of products are going to be sold in the store and what are the price ranges?
NH: Shoppers will see a unique display of creative art products such as greeting cards, planters, porch and picnic furniture, jewelry, pottery, and sewn products such as quilts and pillows. Heart to Art Galleria also displays many art prints. WASCO’s store is all about uniting people with different abilities, giving them the opportunity to showcase their work.

JPW: Tell us a bit about the individuals who create these products.
NH: All of the products are created by adults with disabilities. The majority of them receive services through County Board Programs located throughout the State of Ohio.

JPW: Are the artists from Washington County (OH) alone, or from other Ohio counties as well?
NH: All of the artists reside in the State of Ohio.

JPW: What are the open hours at Heart to Art Galleria?
NH: Monday – Saturday 9AM – 5PM

After our visit there yesterday, we learned that in addition to the beautiful jewelry sold at Heart to Art Galleria, there is a wide variety of offerings, including: wooden gliders and other lawn furniture; ceiling and backsplash tiles; paintings on canvas; Athens' Passionwork's products and Fairfield County's Blue Shoe Arts' products; Buckeye keychains; decorative stones for the garden (we bought one that said "All Dog's Go to Heaven"--it was under $10!); potpourri; stuffed toys; even fair trade coffee! Many Ohio County Board's of Developmental Disabilities are represented in the store with creations by their clients--and I think folks new to the genre of "outsider art" will be astounded at how beautiful these creations are.

There are a lot of things to do and see in Marietta, and if you’re anything like me, a day away is sometimes more restorative than a longer vacation. Marietta is 120 miles from Columbus, 75 miles from Charleston, WV, 170 miles from Cleveland, and 160 miles from Pittsburgh. From Athens, where Mark and I live, it is not far at all, about a 50-minute drive.
Be sure to visit the Heart to Art Galleria and purchase one of their artists’ creations for yourself, your home, or as a gift. You’ll be adding beauty to your life and supporting the creative efforts of some very special people.

Note: After visiting the Galleria, we ate lunch at Austyn's Restaurant, (click on link to see their menu) also on Front Street and near to the public parking lot along the waterfront, where the photo above was taken. It was delicious! I had the strawberry walnut salad and Mark had the club sandwich. For desert, creme brulee and coffee. A perfect addition to our morning get-away. Their dinner menu looked very good too; the restaurant and food it offered reminded me of some of the places we ate when we were in NYC earlier this year (namely Benjamin Steakhouse), and also, Sarava, one of my favorite restaurants (Shaker Square, Cleveland). In other words, a real gem of an eatery, right here in SE Ohio.

Update: 6/18/09. My mother is visiting from FL and we drove over to Marietta today, stopping in at the Heart to Art Galleria. Nancy Harris called me beforehand and told me that tomorrow night, 6/19/09, is the Mayor's Jubilee in downtown Marietta--music, art, shopping, food--sounds wonderful.

It was great to learn that some of my son Bryce's artwork had been purchased and to see what it was that captured visitors' attention (his portrait of Aunt Joan and his drawing of an angel). I also had the opportunity today to meet four of the WASCO jewelry artists who, under the direction of Kim and Chuck, were creating absolutely beautiful glass pendants for necklaces (such as are sold on their website and in the store). I saw how carefully the artists choose the colors and shapes that go on the pendants and they explained to me the process for completing the jewelry (firing in the kiln and then the findings attached so that the pendants can be hung on a necklace).

I noticed that many things that I'd seen on my first visit there for the grand opening were now sold. Great! There are still a lot of great products there and more are on the way. Passionworks and Blue Shoe Arts from Athens and Fairfield Counties, respectively, are well represented. Stuffed toys from Allen County are also there.

Mother and I ate at Austyn's and went into a wonderful gift shop, an antique shop, and a secondhand clothing store. It was a wonderful way to spend a day off of work.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are closed at this time. Thank you for visiting Appalachian Morning. Please connect with me via my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.