Studio B: The Art Scene in the Heart of Boyertown
by Jennifer Hetrick
As a unique art stop for and by the community, Studio B operates as a nonprofit under the Arts & Activities Alliance—a committee of Building a Better Boyertown.
To date, Studio B’s 11 annual exhibits since opening have involved almost 300 visual artists and writers. And the studio is getting closer to its 100th exhibit.
The kinds of art, including media and themes of focus, are almost too numerous to count. But to still name a few beyond the painting, drawing, and sculpture found in similar galleries, some have reflected the area’s unique styles, media, and materials: Pennsylvania Dutch folk, floral, wood, photographic, Swamp Creek clay, stitched collage, and found object art.
And yet the gallery is for more than just its fine art exhibits and openings. Art classes, poetry workshops and readings, local history talks, and community collaborations are also a part of Studio B’s identity in the region.
“It is a space for art and artists to exhibit and sell their artwork, for children and adults to take classes in the visual and literary arts, and for the community to gather together in friendship and participate in the arts,” says Jane Stahl who serves as Studio B’s director of community relations.
Susan Biebuyck is the gallery director, while Jane’s fellow retired English teacher from the Boyertown Area School District, Bob Wood, serves as gallery adjunct.
Together, these three volunteer their time with gallery hosts and others who help to keep this space open in the community, with financial support from grants, donations, memberships, registration fees, sales of art, studio fees, and class costs.
Gallery hours are currently Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Artistic expression can be found in most human endeavors: painting, drawing, photography, architecture, sculpting, writing, performing, cooking, speaking, singing and playing a musical instrument, athletics and dance, and all forms of fiber art,” Jane explains reflectively. “The list goes on and on. As human beings create in any medium, express emotion, design and organize, provide a vision and understanding of their world and of their concept of the beautiful—they become artists.”
Since sometimes people forget that writing is a form of artistry, Jane elaborates on this medium of expression effortlessly, especially given her teaching career.
“Writers use words—their meanings, sounds, rhythms, and the images they provoke to paint their pictures,” she says.
She comments on poetry in particular.
“Poetry condenses an experience, a feeling, a perception, a truth in the most succinct form,” she says. “It’s like ice wine, the dessert of literature, allowing a more concentrated, very sweet rendering of a moment through perfectly-chosen words.”
And a new event is joining Studio B on Sunday, April 23, 2017 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in a first-ever children’s poetry reading for National Poetry Month. Elementary school-aged children from around the region will be welcome to share their original poems, with lots of ecstatic clapping to follow each vocalized endeavor.
Art on walls, tables, and floors is a more eye-specific variety.
“Visual artists use paints, pencils, clay, metal, chalk, ad infinitum to tell their stories and share their experiences, perceptions, and values,” Jane says.
“Drawing and painting classes with our charismatic teacher Jean Esther have been running since we first opened and continue to be popular,” she adds.
Kids tend to want to take Esther’s classes again and again, as he is known to help children and teenagers bring out the best of their talents and confidence as he, too, pursues what he loves.
“Studio B is a gallery designed to exhibit and promote all area artists and their work,” Jane says. “We are always interested in inviting folks to play ‘host’ at Studio B, to spend a few hours a month in our studio, welcoming visitors and patrons. We are lucky to have a few loyal volunteers, but some months, it’s tougher than others to find volunteers willing to host the studio.”
And donations are always welcome because they’re needed.
“The studio is ‘staffed’ by volunteers; we couldn’t exist without them,” Jane says. “We’d like to be open more days and longer hours. To do so, we’d need funds to hire staff. And our directors commit a large part of their lives working as volunteers on behalf of the studio and the artists who are involved. Paying them for their efforts would be nice to be able to do in the future.”
As some artists especially know, the arena of creativity is sometimes about financial sacrifice in our culture, except with those who have managed to find a way to be paid well for what they create. But even with stumbling blocks to paying the bills, the need for art is undeniable, as it uniquely balances us in a stressful world.
“Without accessible art in a community,” Jane says, “life is pale, sterile, cold, hard. Joy is limited; beauty is scarce; feelings are dulled; human interaction superficial. Opportunities for self-discovery, community-building, spiritual development, and appreciation for others are limited.”
Spending time at Studio B easily stirs reminders that art is important to our bones and the beating thumps behind our rib cages.
Jennifer has contributed to local and regional newspapers and magazines in Southeastern Pennsylvania as well as several national-level publications. Always, she creates content with a positively-geared focus of the good going on in communities. Her own blogs are focused in poetry and garden-speak.