New gallery is a creative space for artists

New gallery is a creative space for artists
Teri Stein

Zac Pirillo of New Philadelphia recently got back into creating art when the pandemic left him out of work for two months.

                        

An open house has been planned for Saturday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the new Tusc Arts Cooperative art gallery inside Around the Corner Frames in New Philadelphia. Visitors can look forward to live music, prize drawings, refreshments and a variety of fine art by area artists.

The gallery is a creative space to relax and enjoy art. All pieces on display also are available for purchase. Members of the art cooperative will rotate staffing the gallery and be available to discuss their work.

“It’s turned out fantastic,” said Tim Sidel, owner of Around the Corner Frames. “It’s what I always had envisioned, and now it’s finally coming together.”

Sidel said opening the gallery was one of the reasons he moved his business from Massillon to New Philadelphia.

The group will add a few more colorful rugs, lighting and more art, but most of the hard work of painting, organizing and replacing the ceiling tiles has been done.

“The volunteers have put in hundreds of hours over the last month to refurbish the building into a gallery,” said Vivian Mosley, creator of the Tusc Arts Cooperative.

Some of the Tusc Arts Cooperative volunteers put in eight hours a day during the week, and all members came in on Saturdays. Aside from the many styles of art available, the most notable feature of the new gallery is the ceiling.

A work of art all its own, the ceiling is comprised of Mirroflex ceiling tiles that make the gallery a one-of-a-kind space with its mix of differently textured styles. The tiles are made by ATI Decorative Laminates of Greensboro, North Carolina. Mosley had visited the company several times to see how the tiles were made and knew she wanted to include them in the gallery.

Dave Flynn Design of Akron assisted Mosley with designing the logo, Tim Liversage of Stray Cats Digital designed the website, Rick Arredondo helped with painting, Snyder Manufacturing donated window coverings and Dave Finzer painted.

“I came down to paint, and then it just kept going from there,” Finzer said, adding that since he retired this year he has had the time to donate. He also helped with installing the wall hanging system and ceiling tiles.

The members of the Tusc Arts Cooperative are looking forward to the opportunity the new gallery will provide.

“I like the idea of having a venue like this to sell fine arts in the local area and to be able to have my pieces at a venue with other fine arts,” said Walt Allen of the Zoar area, who also enjoys the opportunity to associate with other artists in the area.

Allen has been doing ceramic pieces since 1994. His wife was a potter, and he asked her to teach him how to throw.

“I just want to be part of the arts that is growing in this community. I think we need more of it,” Michelle Wittensoldner of New Philadelphia said.

Wittensoldner enjoyed photography from a young age, but three and a half years ago, she invested in a better camera and set about learning more about the art.

Wittensoldner has opened her own studio and is focusing on portrait work inside the studio and nature photography outside. “A lot of it is just trial and error,” she said, adding well-known area photographer Terry Barnhill and his wife have been very helpful in getting her studio started.

Despite having her own studio, Wittensoldner said it’s important to have the gallery, and she is pleased with the results.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Wittensoldner said of the group’s efforts. “It’s come a long way, and Vivian’s been very instrumental in making it all come together.”

Ed Steffek of Port Washington has many paintings on display at the gallery. His current interest is figurative work. “I’ve done landscapes and still life, but people are the most interesting. They’re also the most difficult, but you don’t get any better doing the easy stuff,” he said.

Steffek’s art was influenced by his time in the military, where he served in the Orient, and he likes to offer a look at that culture through his work. He likes to create narrative work. “The picture should say something is going to happen or something has just happened. That makes a picture worth looking at more than once,” he said.

Many area residents may have already seen Steffek’s largest piece of outdoor art, a canal era mural, in the square of Port Washington. He also designed a travel poster for the village of Port Washington and completed a portrait of Mayor Tom Gardner.

The youngest member of the group is Zachary Mitchell, 23 of Bolivar. “I want to put myself out there a little more and be a little more accessible to my community. I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s exciting,” Mitchell said. “There’s something here for everyone. That’s why I joined. It’s so diverse, and there are a lot of different styles.”

Mitchell has always been interested in visiting art museums but has not studied it. His art background includes a mandatory art class in high school and a sculpture class in college. A visit to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh influenced his interest in abstract screen printing.

“I’ve just been learning my screen printing process a little bit more,” Mitchell said. “I’m still pretty new to it, but I’m getting better. I have a lot of failed attempts at screen printing, so hopefully if I fail enough, something will come of it. It’s definitely an in-depth process.”

Screen printing is a process he enjoys. “You can reprint something pretty quickly,” Mitchell said. “Maybe it’s because I’m not technically trained or don’t have the patience to paint, but I just like to make the paintings quickly.”

Mitchell also likes to make his own canvases to work on. They are thicker than ones that are store bought, and he feels that makes the work stand out more when it is hanging on a wall.

Making pieces that are relevant is important to Mitchell. Another of his works features broccoli, of course, because fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy diet. He envisions that piece as kitchen décor and also plans to do some work featuring kitchen utensils in the future.

Artist Zac Pirillo of New Philadelphia credits the pandemic with getting him back into acrylic abstract art. “It was about 10 years since I actually painted,” said Pirillo, a hairstylist and owner of the Head Shop salon in downtown Dover.

During that time Pirillo was focused on getting his education and starting his business. “Then all the sudden, I had two months off. I had to figure a way to stay busy, and it was the perfect time to get back into painting. It is healing through all of this to do artwork,” he said.

Pirillo said getting back into art was like being reunited with an old friend. He said he now creates art instead of watching television. “Now I can’t stop. It’s like I’m addicted. I’m loving it, so I try to get a piece or two done each week,” he said.

Pirillo also has been an area musician for the past 20 years. “I’m just honored to be a part of this, and I plan be part of this musically as well,” he said.

Pirillo will perform as part of the gallery’s open house.

Other Tusc Arts Cooperative members and their work include Angela Byrne, jewelry; Anthony Contini, mixed media and photography; Connie Wahl, handmade lampwork beads and gifts; Donald Gesaman, handmade jewelry; Jane Hazell, fine art and fiber art; Melissa Gish, ceramics; Stephanie Space, mixed media; Steve Shonk, photography; Sueanne Crawford, painting; Tim Sidel, mixed media nonobjective painting; and Vivian Mosley, oil and collage.

For more information on the gallery, visit the website at tuscart.com or find them on Facebook.


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