|Messenger photo by Linda Dillman|
|Professional artist and freelance graphic designer Annette Simon is a member of the 7.5 Studio in Canal Winchester who draws inspiration from many sources, including the village’s Town Hall.|
Canal Winchester is rich in local history, but its riches also lie in the artists who comprise the creative side of the village.
Take a stroll throughout downtown and it does not take long to see the fruits of creative spirits who populate the homes, schools, and art venues throughout Canal Winchester, including a half dozen professional artists operating the 7.5 Studio on High Street.
Award-winning artists are not uncommon in this village of more than 5,000 people. Canal Winchester High School junior Andrew Cargill recently took first place in the U.S. 7th Congressional District Art Competition. Cargill’s black and white photo composition, "The Ghost and the Body," was selected to hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year.
"I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures," said Cargill. "Our school offers an art foundation class during freshman year in a cross-category of different media. A lot of kids in school like the arts classes and our teachers make it fun."
Sandra Packer was one such teacher, who is also a professional artist. She was an art instructor at the high school and retired a few years ago after spending 23 years in her Canal Winchester studio-classroom. She is a founding member of the 7.5 Studio and helped create the Canal Winchester Art Guild in the late 1990s.
Studio members are involved in a variety of mediums including watercolor, acrylic, and oil painting; jewelry; sculpture; ceramics; fiber; and photography. The half-dozen artists open their workplace to the public on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"We’re a combination of people with professional training," said Packer. "We are working professionals who have a passion for the arts. I think Canal Winchester is a wonderful area for artists."
She said the Canal Winchester Art Guild was formed by local artists who felt a need for common ground for a community venue and as a way to promote fine arts in the community.
Both the 7.5 Studio and the CW Art Guild strive to promote arts.
"We even have classes from the high school visit the studio. Canal Winchester teachers are very supportive of the arts," said Packer.
The arts thrive in CW
When asked why the art movement has a strong presence in the village, Packer said art is accessible in the community and people feel "comfortable" in pursuing their artistic passions.
She also credits an early introduction to literary, visual, and musical arts in Canal Winchester schools as a contributing factor in fostering an appreciation for artistic endeavors.
"It starts in Indian Trail Elementary School," said Packer. "In first grade they learn about professional artists and art careers. I’ve always felt everyone is an artist in one shape or form. At the high school, there were so many athletes who took art when I was there."
Indian Trail Principal Bev Downing said the school’s Parent Teacher Organization is supportive of the arts and music and encourages administrators and staff to select Arts in the Schools presenters for the students. The PTO helps the district pay for artists and musicians to come into the school.
"We really see the benefit of balancing our curriculum with the arts and music," said Downing. "Some child will be touched by this and it makes them think about what they would like to do. It’s a wonderful opportunity to promote or provide this niche and I love to stir someone’s mind with the possibilities. Some of these kids will one day be the artists and dreamers in our lives."
Annette Simon, a 7.5 Studio member, credits the business community with promoting artists and their works. She said it is a true cooperation between the businesses and the arts and noted a doctor in the new Diley Road medical center who is renting artwork from the studio for his office.
The scope of artwork created by village residents goes well beyond exhibition space in Canal Winchester. Simon was one of 13 Ohio Plein Air Society members selected to participate in a Columbus Museum of Art show featuring paintings of the museum’s Russell Page sculpture garden before it was torn down.
Canal Winchester Community Affairs Director Carrie Hoover said it is evident art is important to the community. Attendance at the village’s trio of Music and Arts in the Park summer programs continues to grow every year. The event features a headlining band, hands-on activities, and presentations by the art guild.
"Each summer it continues to grow," said Hoover. "People are becoming more aware of Music and Arts in the Park. It’s a quality of life issue for our residents, but we also draw people from outside the area as well. The arts are of interest to our residents and are a quality of life we promote in the community."
Music and Art in the Park
Canal Winchester’s free Music & Art in the Park summer concert series kicks off on May 21 at 6 p.m. in Stradley Place in downtown Canal Winchester. Dancers from Studio C will start the evening’s entertainment at 6 p.m., followed by ’70s cover band Agent 99 from 7-9 p.m.
There will be a roaming magician and balloon animals by Miss Dee the clown. Other attractions include a police, fire, military and construction vehicle display as well as live art demonstrations and displays by the Canal Winchester Art Guild.
Remaining Music & Art in the Park events will be held on June 18 and July 16. June 18 event will feature the band Fortune, playing live Buffett/island-style music. Other entertainment will include a roaming juggler, balloon animals by Miss Dee and bounce houses. The series will conclude July 16 with a cruise-in and ’60s/’70s band, the Gas Pump Jockeys. A caricature artist and an airbrush tattoo artist will offer free drawings and tattoos during July’s concert. Both events will also include participation from the Canal Winchester Art Guild. Registration for the July 16 cruise-in will take place from 5-6 p.m. the night of the event.
Participants may also register at emor...@canalwinchesterohio.gov.