About an hour’s drive west of Cleveland will take you to my hometown, Norwalk, Ohio—its streets relatively unchanged since I lived there, providing a warming familiarity each time I visit. However, there is a new storefront along its Main Street with large windows covered with hand-painted flowers. Inside, the space opens with high ceilings—the walls, adorned by a collection of framed art, surround shelves of colorful, handcrafted pottery.
This is Artists’ Open Studio—or AOS, as it is affectionately called by locals. While AOS has been supporting artists with disabilities for many years, founded by Christie Lane teacher Lynda Stoneham in 2004, this studio on Main Street is a new face in the neighborhood, having opened its doors just this summer. The gallery features artwork of AOS and local artists and a collection of various items for sale including hand tie-dyed masks, greeting cards, and seasonal items. The purchase of these items provides income for the individual artists and contributes to many AOS programs. The studio also provides as an accessible and inclusive creative space for AOS artists and will eventually serve as an event space for local businesses and community members.
AOS, previously supported through the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities, became a self-sustaining non-profit organization in April 2019, a transition that would allow AOS to grow in what it could provide to the community, but with a greater reliance on local foundations, grants, and private donations. While continuing the AOS mission of supporting artists with disabilities, Main Street Studio places an added emphasis on increasing awareness and visibility within the community—a crucial component to keeping the AOS mission alive.
The ability to communicate our thoughts, emotions, frustrations and joys is something many of us likely take for granted, but it is a right that is not always equally accessible. For many individuals, the conclusion of a school curriculum also means the loss of necessary resources for creativity and communication—things that are so important in navigating adulthood. AOS makes it possible for over 40 adult artists with disabilities in Huron County to share their talents with their community and brings awareness to the need for all voices to be heard—and here at tiny kitchen bakeshop, we think that’s pretty awesome. So, the profits of all tiny kitchen bakeshop sales from October 1st through December 31st will support AOS and its new Main Street Studio in the hopes that we can help give strength to all voices in the discussion of how to make this world a better place.
For more information regarding Artists’ Open Studio and all the amazing things they do, please visit their website at https://www.artistsopenstudioinc.org/
UPDATE: Together, with your orders of over 132 dozen cookies, we have raised $1571.96 for AOS! It has certainly been a fun (albeit busy) few months and I just want to say thank you again for your big heart, your sweet tooth, and your generosity toward this very special organization. Please continue to show AOS some love in the new year!