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Village Artisans Gallery: Out Of The Basement and Into The Light

By Elisha Neubauer

Nestled in the picturesque historic village of Boiling Springs, in a beautiful 142-year-old brick church building, you'll find the Village Artisans Gallery. Perfectly suited for its location, the gallery is a nationally-recognized treasure trove of high-quality American artistry.

Filling the space is a smattering of fine art and handmade crafts created by over 200 of the best Pennsylvanian and American artists. There's something to please every taste, from traditional and contemporary crafts such as blown glass, pottery, and wrought iron, to stunning fine art, children's book illustrations, calligraphy, and more.

The journey to becoming a nationally-recognized gallery was a long one, starting back in 1995. At the time, P.J. Heyman, owner of Village Artisans Gallery, was already in the art industry running her stained glass business from her private basement. Knowing she wanted to do more with what she had, Heyman began searching for opportunities.

"I became aware that the Brethren church in Boiling Springs was disbanding and would be selling their brick building built in 1875," she said. "I saw this as an opportunity to move my stained glass studio into a light-filled space where I could welcome my customers."

At the time Heyman had begun her search, she already had other artists interested in her gallery concept.

"I also wanted to provide space for two more craft artists and display and sell the work of others," Heyman said. Little did she know what path her idea would be taking in the near future. The gallery opened its doors to the public on April 1, 1995 with only three featured ventures: Heyman's stained glass works, Gay Foltz' Folk Art Carving Studio, and Fred Sheldon's Duck Decoy Studio. While these were the three highlighted studios, the gallery did kick things off with works displayed from over 50 members of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. Since launching, the gallery has gone on to win several awards.

"I look for work that is not cookie cutter, has style and is well made by individual American craft and fine artists, studios and small family businesses," Heyman said.

The works displayed within the gallery are equally as assorted as the price ranges, ensuring that everyone can find something that matches their tastes and budget. In addition to fine art and photography, Heyman has provided a haven for more unusual works, such as fused and blown glass, turned wood, and paper cuttings.

In an effort to garner more appreciation for the unique art forms housed within the gallery's walls, Village Artisans Gallery hosts an event series called Artists in Action. Each artist featured during the series sets up a temporary studio within the gallery space, allowing guests to view the artist in action.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to talk to the artist in person and see first-hand how their work is created," she said. "You are invited to be informed and entertained while watching the artist at work."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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