When Lisa Exner and Sherry Seiler opened their Silver Lining Gallery in Waterville two years ago, it featured the work of 10 artists.
Today, the gallery is filled with wall art, photos, jewelry, purses, blown glass, pottery, and other items from 120 local and national artists, including many from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
To promote the arts and to turn the town into a destination location for fine art, the gallery owners and others have formed the Waterville Area Arts Council.
Ms. Exner, a Waterville resident for 26 years, and Ms. Seiler of Holland are on the arts council board of trustees and are members of the Waterville Merchants Association, an organization downtown business owners formed eight months ago.
Members meet regularly to talk about how to spur on the downtown, Ms. Exner said, and they talk about the positives and negatives of the U.S. 24 bypass. "We kept saying we should develop Waterville into an art community," Ms. Exner said, and two months ago the Waterville Area Arts Council was established.
The arts council will have events, activities, educational classes, and programs related to the arts and will serve as a conduit to artists and musicians, she said.
"We are starting to cultivate events and classes. We would love to have space where artists could rent for their studios," Ms. Exner said.
Lisa Exner, left, and Sherry Seiler, owners of the Silver Lining Gallery in Waterville, distribute refreshments to those who attended a workshop at their store.
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The arts council conducted a silent auction as part of the recent Roche de Boeuf in town, but the first main event for the new organization, a coffee cupping, will be in November.
It will be in conjunction with the Espresso Bar in Waterville, and in addition to providing a chance to sample a variety of coffees, it will include musicians, perhaps playing jazz, Ms. Exner said.
Plans also call for the arts council to take over Music in the Park. As part of cost-cutting measures, the village council earlier this year eliminated funding for the summer music series.
The arts council, Ms. Exner said, would like to expand and rename it as Arts in the Park. Dance, drama, musicians, artists, and others could be involved, she said. "We're trying to or-ganize Arts in the Park for June, July, and August next summer."
Councilman Ann Cherry, who is on the arts council's board of trustees, said the new organization offers a "neat opportunity for the community," and said the arts council's activities would bring more people to Waterville to enjoy art-related events and other amenities in the village.
Ms. Exner said the arts council will seek grants and probably will conduct fund-raisers, such as possibly a juried art show with wine, grazing stations, musicians, and other attractions. That won't likely happen in the first year, though, she said.
Nine people serve on the arts council's board of trustees; Ms. Exner is president. "We are looking for a couple more people for our board," she said.
People interested in joining the arts council can contact Ms. Exner at the Silver Lining Gallery on Mechanic Street. The arts council meets monthly at the Waterville Chamber of Commerce's office.
Ms. Exner and Ms. Seiler are former school administrators.
Ms. Exner was principal 10 years of Fulton Elementary School in the Evergreen district on the Fulton-Lucas county line, and for seven years was executive director of curriculum for Sylvania Schools. She retired in July, 2009.
Ms. Seiler was principal of Evergreen's Lyons Elementary School for 13 years, and in 2005 she became the first principal of the new Evergreen Elementary School. She held a part-time administrative position with Springfield Schools after retiring from Evergreen.
Their gallery is in a renovated bungalow built in 1907. A patio was added a month ago.
Music and outdoor art are planned for that area, Ms. Exner said.