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Local Organizations Offer Creative Outlets for Lake Students

People at ArtsPlace

ArtsPlace | Photo by Erin Weirrick

In the absence of art courses at the Lake Campus, local organizations offer an opportunity for creative involvement to students. 

ArtsPlace offers various courses and mediums 

The Mercer/Auglaize ArtsPlace campus, located on East Spring Street in downtown St. Marys, offers one-time and month-long classes in a variety of artistic endeavors, as well as housing art exhibits and offering art items for sale. 

The Mercer/Auglaize ArtsPlace opened in 2005 and is currently under the direction of Erin Weirrick, who oversees the center, marketing, exhibits, coordinates teachers and currently teaches needle felting.

Fall semester classes going on now include watercolors, needle felting, pen and wash, polymer clay, acrylic painting resin jewelry, and crochet. Classes are taught by local and nationally recognized artists. 

Acrylic painting instruction has been done by well-respected artist Debby Gregory; watercolor painting has been taught by nationally recognized artist Pat Rayman. 

According to Weirrick, classes range in price from $20 to $75. 

“I really want to keep the classes affordable because I think that arts education and access to the arts is really, really important and I want to make that as widespread and as available as possible for people in the community,” Weirrick said. 

ArtsPlace is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and by appointment on Tuesday. According to Weirrick, demographics tend toward the older retired population who do not have schedule conflicts. 

“The only reason we’re not open on weekends is because we don’t have the volunteer help. We have tons of volunteer opportunities available, whether it’s helping hang art, whether it’s helping with a class, handing out candy for special events or things like that. We would totally take volunteers and possibly internship opportunities,” Weirrick said. 

Upcoming one-time classes this fall include alcohol ink coasters on Nov. 11, polymer clay creature creator on Nov. 18, needle felt ornaments on Nov. 19, and a variety of holiday crafts in December. Many of these classes are limited to 10 participants and require pre-registration. 

In addition to holiday crafts, ArtsPlace sells art created by local and exhibiting artists, offering many unique holiday gift options. A holiday open house will be held in December.

More information about how to sign up for classes can be found on their website and on their Facebook page, “Arts Place.”

Community band open to all local musicians

The St. Marys Area Community Band is under the direction of Dane Newlove, who retired from his position of 27 years as the St Marys Memorial High School band director. Newlove established the community band in the summer of 2013. 

The band is open to anyone in the area of all ages and skill levels. 

“Our normal season we only perform in the summer. Usually, it’s three times, this year we only did two. Usually in the park at St. Marys,” Newlove said. 

The Community Band season normally starts at the end of April and runs through the summer, ending in August. There are no fees involved in participating, outside of purchasing a band polo shirt to wear for performances. 

This year, for the first time, the Community Band will be performing a Christmas concert on Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the commons at St. Marys Memorial High School. 

“We’re going to use the concert sort of as a fundraiser for the theatre project here in St. Marys,” Newlove said.

The band is currently made of about 50 members and is accepting new members on any instrument, but is especially looking for musicians on trumpet and French horn. 

To get involved or to get more information on upcoming concerts, follow the community band on Facebook at “St. Marys OH Community Band.” 

Students receptiveness to arts involvement 

Many students are unaware of the local organizations that offer arts involvement and their busy schedules pose an obstacle to participation. 

Middle school education major Brooklyn Fiely,  business supply chain major Abby Bruns, and  nursing major Britney Klenke said that they had not previously heard of ArtsPlace or the Community Band, but that their college academic life takes precedence.

“I need to get through college first before I have time for hobbies,” joked Bruns.

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