by Stacey Hogue
As any artist will tell you, creativity comes and goes like the tide on a regular basis. When we first arrived in Grove City from Aberdeen, Scotland in the winter of 2009 I was in the ebb. Making an overseas move had upset my equilibrium. I needed a safe place to land but wasn’t sure I had found it. And arriving in the middle of the winter was tough…Western Pennsylvania in January makes Northeast Scotland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle seem like the first day of spring. I felt lost and lonely and sure that I was the only artist in town.
And then one day…I wandered into a coffee shop downtown. It was undergoing a facelift by the new owner, who told me she was considering the name Beans on Broad for her recently acquired business. A young moms’ group at East Main Presbyterian invited me to join them and I met the new business owner’s sister. Polly Lindh and Micaela Vrabel and later their mom, Becky, became some of the most encouraging supporters of my art in those early months here in Grove City. An acquaintance from the moms’ group introduced me to another recently relocated artist, Sarah Irani, and we became fast friends. Through Sarah, I met Lisa Prichard and Mary Jo Palmer just as they were preparing to open their new business, B’Gifted. Lisa introduced me to Leann Smith, the owner of Pine Tree Publishing, who in 2014 gave me the amazing opportunity to illustrate two children’s books. Through the mentoring and support of this community, I have been able to realize my artistic goals.
Sarah and I dreamed of having a place for artists to meet and work and create art, and although we didn’t know it at the time, that dream was shared by other members of the community. In 2010 I decided to have an art event in my home. Ryan and Kelly Bibza were some of the people who attended and it was through their connections with Micaela that the first Artisans evening was held at Beans on Broad. We had no idea how such an event would be received, but we were overwhelmed as the community turned out to enthusiastically support the arts. Artisans’ success gave way to the first Art Walk, the formation of an arts council, and the eventual establishment of Grove City ArtWorks.
Slowly the threads of connection wove their way in and out until one day I realized that I had become part of this small but vibrant community. Micaela and others had a dream for Grove City to become an arts destination and I have had the privilege of watching that dream become the reality we enjoy today. As we look toward the future it is easy to see that Grove City is indeed a safe place for an artist to be nurtured and encouraged and given opportunities to flourish. I’m proud to be adopted into this community and to see what happens next.