The glass block windows have come down, and the natural light has flooded in.
It signifies a bright new era for ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, which has renovated the former home of Delta Medix Breast Care Center at 236 Penn Ave., Scranton, into its new home — an open, airy spot with three times the amount of space it had at its previous location at 503 Lackawanna Ave. Where it previously had one classroom and also held classes in its gallery, ArtWorks now has several classrooms and studios — spread over three levels — which lets it expand its public class offerings, too.
“We had dreamt and said, ‘What if we had that separation between studio space and gallery space?’” said Kaitlin Harrison, gallery and program coordinator. “(Here) we have that separation.”
Noelle Snyder, marketing specialist for Keystone Community Resources, which supports ArtWorks, pointed to the desire to expand the gallery’s programs and own its building as reasons for the move. But it also wanted to stay involved in the local arts scene, she said, and with it now situated next to the recently revamped 300 block of Penn Avenue — which features a mix of new and established bars and restaurants as well as several other businesses — ArtWorks finds itself in an up-and-coming neighborhood. The gallery participates in the First Friday Art Walk monthly and the new location afforded a chance to continue that involvement.
“We saw this as the best of both worlds, facilitating classes but having a foot in the door with the arts community,” Harrison said.
The first floor, which previously housed medical offices and exam rooms, was gutted and turned into the main gallery space. ArtWorks added new flooring and chose not to replace the drop ceiling, instead preferring an exposed industrial look, Harrison said. Old glass block windows that covered most of the front wall were replaced with large picture windows. And now, artwork stands out on stark white walls in an open-concept room.
ArtWorks continued renovations upstairs, although there are parts that remain unchanged for now. There, visitors will find a digital studio, and the gallery plans to install a kiln at its ceramics studio and to offer print-making and silk-screening as well.
“We loved our location on Lackawanna Avenue, but we couldn’t grow like we wanted to,” said Delia O’Malley, ArtWorks’ program manager.
Those spaces eventually will allow the public to participate in various art classes, but ArtWorks will continue to serve its regular clientele, people with autism and intellectual disabilities served by Keystone Community Resources. Those students come to ArtWorks as an alternative to usual day services, spending their time learning various artistic skills. Students range in age from about 19 to 60 and include people who are nonverbal, have sensory issues and have other special needs, O’Malley said
“We give them that opportunity to venture into that different avenue,” Harrison said. “The arts are so important for rehabilitation or somebody that’s possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is that outlet for them.”
Through ArtWorks — which also offers programs in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties — students can learn such skills as drawing, sculpture, painting and more, as well as the professional side of things, such as matting and framing their pieces. The new building will allow ArtWorks to offer more kinds of artistic mediums to its students, Harrison said.
More opportunities and space mean students can produce more artwork, Harrison said. Their work gets displayed in the Scranton gallery a couple times a year as well as at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock and the Susquehanna County Courthouse in Montrose. Local businesses also display students’ work, and ArtWorks sells pieces, too, which benefits the students and the gallery’s programs.
Over the last several weeks, employees have moved into the space and given tours to ArtWorks students. The building has “a really positive energy,” said Delia O’Malley, ArtWorks’ program manager, and visitors have responded to it well.
“All of our students who come in, they’re so excited,” O’Malley said.
The public will have a chance to see the new space this week, when it officially opens with its latest exhibit, “Chasing the Light,” the rock ‘n’ roll photography of Jay Blakesberg, a San Francisco-based photographer whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone. Accompanying that show is “Jam Fan,” a collection of drawings by Pennsylvania artist Mark Loughney that are based on Blakesberg’s work. Loughney is incarcerated, Harrison explained, and the artwork “was his way of almost a rehabilitation or a second-chance opportunity,” something that “checks all our boxes.”
Blakesberg will attend the show’s opening reception during First Friday on Sept. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., which will include live music by Dave Brown and the Dishonest Fiddlers.
Harrison wants the public to not only understand ArtWorks’ various existing programs but also that it plans to have more public programs as well. And, she added, it’s open for gallery submissions, too.
“We want this to be that community space that integrates people that are so undervalued and immerses them into the larger community,” Harrison said.
First Friday events
- “7PM,” works by Arlene Carey, with music by Luke Thomas, Adezzo, 515 Center St.
- “Abstraction of Photos,” works by Alicia Reid, Vintage Kitchen, 317 Linden St.
- “The Art of Luzerne County Community College,” works by students and faculty, Luzerne County Community College — Scranton Center, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
- “Artwork,” works by Lyndsey Hughes, Cosmic Cinemas, 301 Lackawanna Ave.
- “Artwork Miscellaneous,” works by Brooke Lamberti, with live music, the Velvet Elvis, 523 Bogart Court
- “Big Little Company,” works by Gianna Elizabeth Caputo, Tammy’s Stained Glass Treasures, 348 Adams Ave.
- Book signing for “Ghost Train” by Dave Brown, Library Express, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
- “The Conditions of My Parole,” works by Karey Ziagos, Eden — A Vegan Cafe, 344 Adams Ave.
- “Conjunctioned,” works by Connor Jordan, with live music, Peculiar Slurp, 307 Penn Ave.
- Contest pop-up, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
- “Depth of Field and Beyond the Beyond,” works by Lindsay Barrasse and Robert Reynolds, with music by DJ Matt Michaylo, POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
- “Eggshell Art,” works by Olivia’s Chickens, NOTE Fragrances, 401 Spruce St.
- Electric City Steel Drum Project, with various artists and live music, second floor, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
- Flabslab toy release, with music by Vinz & K.A.N.O.B.I., Analog Culture, 349 N. Washington Ave.
- “Happy Accidents,” acrylic paintings by Meghan Shoemaker, with music by John Meza, the Workshop, 334 Adams Ave.
- “International Interdependence Hexagon Project 13th annual Exhibition,” with music by Mark Woodyatt and Jacob Cole, Stories Literacy Center, second floor, the Marketplace Mall at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
- “LifeSharing,” works by various artists, S.A.M. Service Access & Management Inc., Suite 100, 201 Lackawanna Ave.
- “The Planning Unit,” works by Nikki Moser, with music by Bradley Parks, Bar Pazzo, 131 N. Washington Ave.
- Praise and worship music with Corey Kizer and University of Scranton Praise & Worship, Heaven & Earth Gift Shop, Suite 100, 400 Wyoming Ave.
- “Put a Bird on It,” multi-media work by various artists, with live music, Trinity Studio & Gallery, 511 Bogart Court
- “Revitalizing Art & Classic Rock with ZAG,” works by various artists, with music by Dave Zag, the Recovery Bank, 120 Wyoming Ave.
- “Rock & (or) Roll,” works by Jason Riedmiller, Loyalty Barber Shop, 342 Adams Ave.
- “Sam Kuchwara Art,” with music by LittleStarRun, Northern Light Espresso Bar and Cafe, 536 Spruce St.
- “Student Showcase,” works by Wonderful Art Studio, with music by Ellie Rose, Susan G. Komen Greater Pennsylvania, 150 Adams Ave.
- Works by Andrew Valanda, 426 Mulberry, 426 Mulberry St.
- Works by Cody Mack and David Walsh, Artists for Art Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
- Works by Heidi Stecik and Shari Kantor, the Connell Gallery, 125 N. Washington Ave.
- Works by Karen Brazil, Jason Merril and Kevin Yovziak, with music by Jason Merrill, Samters Building, 101 Penn Ave.
- Works by various artists, NEPA Candles fall collection and music by Quartet, Opulence on Spruce, 310 Spruce St.
If you go
- What: “Chasing The Light: The Rock and Roll Photography of Jay Blakesberg” and “Jam Fan,” drawings and paintings by Mark Loughney
- Where: ArtWorks Gallery & Studio, 236 Penn Ave., Scranton
- When: Friday, Sept. 6, to Monday, Sept. 30; gallery open Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 3 p.m.; and by appointment
- Opening reception: Friday, Sept. 6, 6 to 9 p.m.
- Details: Events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 570-207-1815, email info@artworksnepa. com, or visit artworksnepa.com or its Facebook page.
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest