Creative Corner

Vevay’s Art Center has grown in popularity among artist

A wide variety of art media is on display
and for sale there

VEVAY, Ind. (January 2015) – They say that creativity is contagious. That certainly seems to be the case at the Community Art Center of Switzerland County, Ind. One step into the gallery and one is immediately overcome with the amount of art on display. Paintings in many different genres, metal and found object sculpture, fiber arts, jewelry, collage, wood and glass are all available in this assembly of locally made products.
This non-profit organization was formed three years ago and was meant to take the place of the now closed Signatures Art Gallery. The area was in need of a space where local artists could meet with one another as well as display their work. The result was the Art Center located at 217 Ferry St. in Vevay, Ind. The building is a perfect setting for an Art Center since it is open and has an abundance of natural light.
Richard Leep, an artist from New Albany, Ind., is currently featured. While the Art Center is intended primarily for artists from the local area, the featured artist can be an exception to the rule and changes monthly. Leep has a style range that is impressive. Starting with still lifes that have a surreal, nontraditional feel, his work progresses through some very crisp landscapes, only to find that the artist also does abstract work. He not only creates abstract but abstract that will react to a viewer donning a pair of 3-D glasses.

SWT Arts Center

Photo provided

The Community Art Center of Switzerland County has attracted many area artists who exhibit and sell their wares at the Vevay building.

Art Center board member and artist Ted Brown has numerous metalwork sculptures on display. Some incorporate a gong or moving parts. Many of Brown’s pieces are also functional as exhibited by his table base that is paired with a tabletop crafted by Bob Maile of Madison, Ind.
Fiber arts can be seen by board member Diana Berry in the form of quilts and quilted ornaments. Melodie Stepleton has many items of felted wool, silk and bamboo. These materials are woven or spun to create remarkable fabrics that are fashioned into scarves or purses, among other things. Stepleton frequently gives demonstrations of her methods at the Switzerland County Historical Society as well as the Art Center.
Marty McGraw, secretary of the Art Center and the administrator for its Facebook page, is responsible for some truly amazing polymer creations that include jewelry items and ornaments. The artist has also begun to create collage pieces. “You can get polymer to look like almost anything,” the artist says. This is a statement that she proves with her beads that resemble stones and wood. Once she has formed the components, the artist is able to assemble the pieces into wearable art and decorative items.

Marty McGraw

Photos by Jenny Straub Youngblood

Art Center secretary Marty McGraw poses with her artistic polymer creations that include jewelry, and ornaments. Below are samples of Glen McFarland’s wood turnings.

Among the highlights of the gallery are Martha Bladen and Joyce Benbow with their amazing collage items. Bladen creates quilt patterns from graphic material such as postage stamps. However, to see what items have been used to create a design, one must really lean in and look. Some of Bladen’s creations use antique buttons. As her husband, Steve, says, “Martha never met a button she didn’t like.”
Benbow, who is also the vice president of the Art Center, also creates collage, but she pulls her resources from elsewhere – household items such as caps from bottles, milk cartons and laundry detergent. Items that have outlasted their intended use, such as light bulbs and computer disks, are also used. The finished products are fascinating and assembled in a manner that focuses on quality.
Wood turnings are also on display and have been created by Glen McFarland. These items are wonderful examples of the beauty of natural materials. It is interesting to observe how McFarland makes a naturally occurring “flaw” in the wood the very component that makes a piece beautiful.
Board member Richard Drake also works in wood. He carves wood but also does scrimshaw. He also creates walking sticks, sculpture and items made from melted plastic. Drake seems to be able to take almost any material and turn it into a work of art that is sure to draw much interest.
The resident glass artist is Mary Brown, who sets her work apart from other glass artists with her decorative soldering. She includes beads, cameos and other ornamental items and will occasionally give the piece a three-dimensional element that will make the item differ from a traditional glass wall hanging. 
Michael Danner, president of the Art Center, exhibits his textural paintings that showcase local scenes as well as glimpses into the artist’s many travels around the world. Whimsical paintings by Ann Farnsley are available as well as watercolors by Jay Benzing, who is scheduled to be a featured artist in 2015.
In addition to creating this wide range of art items, members of the Art Center provide classes both at the center as well as at the Swiss Villa Nursing Home. Meredith Luhr, one of the founding members of the Art Center, teaches the classes offered to Swiss Villa residents on a regular basis.
McGraw adds that there have been exhibits of art created in those classes in the past. The center will frequently coordinate with Vevay Main Street Program and Switzerland County Tourism for events and contests. “We all try to work together,” says McGraw.
The building is also available for rent for small functions and is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

• For more information, call business manager Anita Danner at (812) 599-4048.

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