Beavercreek artists open studios for 15th year
Once again, it's time to take a scenic drive to see 26 local artists hard at work in the Open Studios of Beavercreek event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8, 9 and 10.
Two of those artists, Jeanne Kelley-Brown and Renee Sonnichsen, will participate in the biannual art show and sale for the first time.
Kelley-Brown works in mosaics and will display and sell trays, coasters, trivets, birdhouses, tables and decorative mosaics in her home and out on her deck.
Visitors to Sonnichsen's studio can watch her assemble handbags designed with atypical items such as hardware and recycled materials.
Kelley-Brown said she likes all aspects of creating mosaics, especially hunting for the perfect paper at yard sales, thrift shops and paper stores. She has discovered unique paper in Astoria and Ashland, as well as Cinque Terre, Italy, and is always on the lookout for more.
"Creating the collage is when the creative juices start flowing. It usually looks like a bomb went off in my little room," Kelley-Brown said.
Cutting and gluing glass is a quiet time for her, and then the grouting process is the "big reveal," she said, noting that she truly does not know what the piece will look like until it is grouted.
Kelley-Brown is a longtime resident of the Oregon City area who has spent most of her adult life working with those with special needs. She said she never thought of herself as a creative person, but that changed when she went into the Carnegie Center, at that time an art center showing the work of local artists.
"I walked in one day, and they were featuring a mosaic artist by the name of Anna Meyrick. Her work was amazing, and I fell in love with it," Kelley-Brown said.
She was thinking about buying a piece when the woman behind the counter said, "You can make that."
The woman mentioned that Meyrick taught mosaic classes in the basement, and so Kelley-Brown took two workshops from her and has been hooked ever since.
"It all started with four simple words 'You can make that' and now I can't not make that," she said.
Sonnichsen and her husband moved to Beavercreek last summer, and when she learned about the open studios event knew she had to be involved.
Her studio is only six months old and perfectly set up to enable visitors to observe her constructing "strong, sexy, smart handbags."
Handbags are her specialty, Sonnichsen said, because they are "something you can touch, wear and fit to your personality. [They are] functional and can express your style."
Sonnichsen's handbag line is called Hardwear By Renee. She started the company in 2001, and it features contemporary purses in a range of modern colors with a clean urban style, she said.
Sonnichsen strives to create handbags that easily transition from day to evening, and the purses show that "durability need not be dowdy, nor femininity fussy and fragile."
As for why people should attend the open studios event, Sonnichsen noted that it "creates a special connection between the artist and the customer that you don't get if you went to a store."
She added, "The idea behind opening up artist studios to the community and the ability to meet the artist and hear the story behind their work is unique and so effective."
Sonnichsen will share her studio with jewelry maker Cheri Bosserman and said she is looking forward to meeting people during the event.
Take a scenic drive
What: Open Studios of Beavercreek
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More: To see examples of the work of all 26 artists and a map to the 10 studios, visit openstudiosofbeavercreek.weebly.com.