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Waynesboro's vacant buildings transformed into makeshift art galleries during Destination ARTS!

July 19, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • From left, "The Ken Jankura Quartet" with Joe Dennison, Brett Crawford and Ken Jankura play Jazz on West Main Street in Waynesboro Friday evening as part of the music for Destination ARTS! opening weekend.
By Yvette May / Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — On Friday, seven vacant buildings in downtown Waynesboro were transformed into works of art at the grand opening celebration of “Destination ARTS!”

Destination ARTS!, an initiative of the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro, will continue every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through late October.

Andrew Sussman, co-president of the Arts Alliance, came up with the idea.

“Walking down the street, I noticed how beautiful the town is, but how many vacant stores there are. It’s not something that’s a negative reflection on Waynesboro per se. It’s something that towns across the country are suffering,” Sussman said.

That’s how he came up with the idea to showcase vacant buildings by transforming them into makeshift art galleries.

“It just seems to be a win-win situation. Landlords are happy, because we’re trying to rent their buildings that have been sitting vacant, and the artists are happy. All the art is for sale,” he said.

There is no cost to participate in Destination ARTS!

Sussman said nearly 800 pieces from 60 artists are on display in seven different galleries, as well as several storefronts in Waynesboro.

The landlords offer the buildings rent free, he said.

“It’s an economic revitalization project. We are actively trying to rent the buildings at the same time,” Sussman said. “We’ll really succeed if we put ourselves out of business.”

If the space is rented, Sussman said the gallery will move to another vacant building in the hopes of renting that one.

“We want every vacant building in Waynesboro to be occupied by a good, strong viable business that adds to the community,” he said.

For Volunteer Coordinator Elena Kehoe of Waynesboro, the arts initiative is wonderful for the community.

“Those of us who live here and love Waynesboro have been waiting for something to revitalize our downtown in a way that brings culture, that brings community together, that brings people around an activity that they are having fun,” Kehoe said.

The fact that it is also an economic program is fantastic, she said.

Destination ARTS! is an all-volunteer initiative and Kehoe coordinates the 140 volunteers.

If you’d like to volunteer, contact Kehoe by email at elena.kehoe@gmail.com.

Marjorie Tressler, curator for Destination ARTS!, said this is the first arts initiative of its kind in this area.

 “Nobody has ever done anything of this scope in the area. Seven galleries in six weeks,” she said.

To have a gallery of this kind, you would have to go to Washington, D.C., or Baltimore, she said.

The galleries are family-oriented, Tressler said.

“Bring the children in to see art. Any time children see art, they are going to be educated and inspired,” she said.

The art is for sale and ranges in price from $100 to $5,600.

Craig and Judy Melby-Robinson spent Friday night at Destination ARTS!

They are hoping that Hagerstown, where they live, develops something similar.

 “I think the idea would work beautifully in Hagerstown,” Craig Melby-Robinson said.

If you go:

Destination ARTS!
(open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October)
Friday 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.

Gallery locations:
50 W. Main St.
37 W. Main St.
32 W. Main St. (headquarters)
30 W. Main St.
22 W. Main St.
2 E. Main St.
13 S. Church St.

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