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Art for Heart
By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
Since opening a storefront in 2008, The heART of Friendship Art Gallery has held an annual auction hoping to raise funds for the program, which enables people with disabilities to create art. This year is special because it will be the last held in Ephrata. Friendship Community Events Coordinator Joy Ashley hopes this year can be a major success, not just because it’s the last in Ephrata — since the gallery will move to Lancaster City later this year — but it may be the best auction yet.
"We totally outgrew the facility (in Ephrata) and the need to move elsewhere became more and more apparent," said Ashley.
The answer to Friendship Community’s needs appeared when Landis Homes purchased 118 North Water Street in Lancaster and decided to turn the upper floors into senior living condominiums. Steeple View Lofts was born. Landis Homes presented a plan to Friendship Community allowing The heART of Friendship Gallery to reside in the lower level. The official move-in date is fluid, and the gallery could start taking shape as early as May with an opening scheduled for summer.
"This is a wonderful opportunity," said Ashley. "The heART of Friendship is basically a programming option for individuals with developmental disabilities. It is open to service providers other than (Friendship Community)."
The new location is in the center of Lancaster’s burgeoning arts scene, which will benefit the collective of artists. What makes The heART of Friendship Gallery so special, said Ashley, is the business model allowing not only for therapy and expression through artistic means, but also the ability for artists to sell their work.
"The art auction is one of the major fundraisers to support this program," said Ashley. "This is our last hurrah, our farewell and thank you to the community of Ephrata."
More than previous years, Ephrata businesses have stepped up with sponsorships. A 5:30 p.m. reception kicks off the event Friday, Feb. 22 at Lily’s on Main. The Friendship Community looks forward to thanking their sponsors before the auction starts at 7 p.m.
"We will have a special presentation from The heART of Friendship Gallery to Ephrata National Bank and the Steinman Foundation," said Ashley. "They have been huge sponsors and huge supporters for the gallery. The gallery artists wanted to show their appreciation in a very special way."
This year’s focus reflects on the gallery’s move to downtown Lancaster. Artists offering items on the auction block range from first-time professionals to long-time supporters; artwork is available from emerging artists and established names. Along with a mixed media collage titled "Winter’s End," newcomer Freiman Stoltzfus donated "Interior 2008," a 19.5-inch by 51-inch custom framed, oil painting. Overall his donations are valued at $5,900. Notable ladies on the Lancaster art scene like Liz Hess, who will also emcee the event, and Suk Shuglie offered art valuing a total of $6,650. However, not all items are high dollar marks. Tellus 360, a store in downtown Lancaster with an eclectic mix of naturally inspired art and home decor, offers a lamp of repurposed wood valued at $137. Who knows which piece will attract the most dollars? Last year was a surprise, a joyful surprise, said Ashley, when the signature heart piece went for $3,700.
"Every year there is a signature heart piece. It’s the very last item in the live auction. This is a piece that one of the artists with disabilities painted and out of all (heart paintings) was selected as the signature heart," said Ashley. "What the bidder did (last year) was she turned around and donated it back to the artist and her father. It was a very emotional, wonderful time. You never know what’s going to happen each year, how people’s hearts are moved by this (event)."
She is hoping to raise more than last year’s gross of $19,000. Music will be provided by The David Wilson Group. Tickets for The heART of Friendship Art Gallery auction are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling Ashley at (717) 656-2466 extension 112.
"People should really come. It’s not only supporting artists with disabilities, but it supports the local community and all the businesses involved," said Ashley.
A full list of the more than 20 local sponsors can be found on the auction website. For those not able to attend the live auction, absentee bids can be placed online at www.friendshipart.net/events/benefit-art-auction. More ART, page A16