Arts on Main studios seen as an Elkhart hub for arts community

Gallery serves as headquarters for ArtWalk, which returns Wednesday.

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 4:57 p.m.

ELKHART — Thanks to a new facility in downtown Elkhart, Diane Overmyer will start to reclaim some of her dining room table space, which has been overtaken by her artwork, and she thinks she’s found a solution.

The Wakarusa woman, who is president of the Northern Indiana Artists, will soon shift her artistic endeavors to a new studio at the multi-faceted facility in downtown Elkhart known as Arts on Main.

At first, she said she was reserved about the idea of renting studio space because of the finances, but the idea quickly grew on her.

“I was so impressed with the space, I thought, ‘I’ve got to find a way to make this work,’” Overmyer said.

“I just want to settle in, get working, have a space where I can go and not be distracted and produce bigger, deeper works than what I’m able to do at home,” she said.

ArtWalk is Wednesday
About 30 artists and musicians will be part of Wednesday’s ArtwWalk, but the emphasis will be on dance.
ArtWalk will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday along South Main in downtown Elkhart.
Elkhart Summer Dance Series, hosted by That's Dancing Studios, kicks off with dance instruction at 7 p.m. and a two-hour post-ArtWalk community dance on Civic Plaza with vocalist Janet Hines-Norris and her band from 8 to 10 p.m.

Also part of ArtWalk will be a performance of the Romano (gyspy) dance form on the Main Stage by Troupe Svaturo, led by Melanie Grove Wade.

Florindo Rozante, an Elkhart resident who travels extensively and specializes in large-scale oil paintings, decided he wanted to have additional studio space beyond what is available in his apartment just down the block on South Main Street.

His studio has already begun to take shape with paintings and supplies.

The fact that he’s had studios in New York, London and New Delhi, as well as other studio space in Elkhart suggests his involvement in Arts on Main is as much a tip of the hat to the city as it is a demand for more work space.

Arts on Main opened in May and was established by Downtown Elkhart Inc. with the hopes of bringing together established and emerging artists.

Steve Gruber, the project manager for Arts on Main, said he hopes it evolves into an epicenter for local artists who want to display, create and learn.

The facility has regular hours and serves as the headquarters for ArtWalk, which returns on Wednesday afternoon, July 9, for another expansive show of art and music along South Main.

Gruber views Arts on Main as a project and believes the facility will serve as a forum for artists as well as an incubator for talent.

The first floor serves as a gallery that currently displays the oil paintings of Overmyer and Mark Vander Vinne.

Next month, ceramics will be featured.

Below the gallery, the basement is being renovated into class space for people who want to learn more about ceramics, painting and drawing. Classes are expected to begin this fall.

Directly above the studio is an area officials want to convert into a children’s gallery.

The eight studios are upstairs and accessible through a separate door south of the Arts on Main storefront.

The gallery is open three days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The project came together as a result of support from DEI, its executive director, Dan Boecher, and the Elkhart County Community Foundation.

The building is owned by Dan Boecher, who became executive director of DEI in January.

Plans by Boecher to renovate the building began last year and DEI’s board agreed to enter into an agreement to rent and establish the facility as an arts center earlier this year.

Boecher has poured his own money into the renovations.

DEI applied for and received a total of $25,000 from the Elkhart County Community Foundation to cover the cost of marketing and overhead for two years.

Overmyer said she believes northern Indiana suffers from a lack of good gallery space for artists and thinks the rent levels for studios and the commission rate established for the sale of art in the gallery will make it attractive to artists.

Overmyer formerly owned a gallery in Goshen, but sees a lot of potential in Elkhart, which has established an Arts and Entertainment district in the downtown business district.

Fellow artists she talks with are excited about Arts on Main.

“Goshen has a lot of wonderful things happening, but I feel like there is even more potential in Elkhart if people just get behind it and support it.”

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