I first found out about Heartside during an Art Hop night in our city. After stepping inside, I immediately knew that I wanted to come back and take the tour and learn more about what they are doing. After the taking the tour, I knew I had found a place that I wanted to begin volunteering.
Heartside is all about helping people and art. Which is why, as we stepped inside one afternoon for our tour, I immediately wanted to cry. Cry in a good way. Cry, because I walked into a crowded room of people, many of whom were from the streets, who were creating art…..really good art.
Heartside is a free art studio open to the “neighbors” of the Heartside community.
“Heartside Neighbors* are often homeless, with little or no income, struggling with mental and physical disabilities or addiction. Poor in the things of this world but rich in the things of the spirit, they are brimming with talent, resolute in their faith–hopeful, caring, and deeply committed to the community they have found with one another.”– Heartside webpage
The statement above says it all.
You can see why I LOVE this place.
They value people, love them where they’re at and also see what they can be.
The art the artists create and the environment at Heartside are a catalysis of hope. The hope of stepping out in courage to try something new and stepping into who and what you can be. Many of the artists at Heartside have discovered a hidden talent they never knew they had. They’ve also been given something that has given them confidence, community, and compassion.
Our tour guide, named Denis, showed us the studio then took us downstairs to see the woodshop,
pottery studio, frame room, and fiber arts room.
The walls of each hallway we walked thru were covered in artwork that had been created at Heartside.
Heartside also has social programs to assist neighbors as well. They helped Denis to get aid for an apartment in his time of need and through the gallery he reconnected with art and his lost love of writing. He now writes regularly for “Spoon” which is a monthly publication for the writers of Heartside.
The artists at Heartside each get a space on the wall after they have been making art consistently.
Each artist gets their name on a shelf and eventually has hopes of selling their art in the gallery.
The artists gets 85% of each sale while 15% goes back toward purchasing supplies.
It not only gives confidence but helps create income.
Every piece of work has a story. The stories behind the people who created them and what they have overcome, is even more inspiring.
The people you meet like Katalina, (who is pictured above), Kathy Sams and Cory are just a few of the many, who have been given hope here. (I had the honor of helping Cory pick out a few pieces for his upcoming placement on the wall.)
We recently purchased a bird feeder for my mother in law from Anthony. He has been sober for several years now and has aquired several artistic skills since coming to Heartside. He makes the bird feeders out of recycled materials from old buildings. He signs, dates, and shares which old building the materials came from. Each purchase is a piece of history.
Many of the supplies are donated and artists use creativity to recycle items that would be seen as trash somewhere else. They turn trash into treasure.
I’m still here and that’s a miracle
And the reason for the story
Unusual and yet in some ways typical
The mean streets, the cold nights
There’s no jobs, no futures
And the homeless live through the twilight.
Out in the streets
And at the shelters
Where we live in the city
Is still just short of miracles.
So don’t give up
And don’t give in
God is in the streets
And Jesus is near.
Where we live is where we meet
For the message from Heartside rings clear
There’s a miracle everyday
For the people at Heartside facing change.
We’re still here against all odds
We’re the world of Heartside under God
For those who came before us
And those yet to arrive
It’s just another miracle in our struggle to survive.
Here at Heartside the winter is fading
When spring comes alive, the seasons are changing
It’s the miracle of life.
You can show Heartside Gallery and Art Studio some love by stopping in and purchasing an item.
Most items are priced between $10- $40. This is a way to have original art at really great value and directly support people. You can also “like”them on facebook, stop in for a tour, donate materials, art supplies, time or finaces to the ministry.
If you know of other organizations with a vision incorporating art similar to Heartside, I would love to hear about them.
6 thoughts on “Art with Heart – Why I Love the Mission of Heartside Gallery and Studio”
That is such a beautiful story! Thanks for posting. What an amazing ministry and opportunity for these people.
Love this Nedra!! Wish I could come and help!! Makes me think of your mom soooo much!
Regan- I just checked out your blog. LOVE! You have such a gift. I can’t wait to see the finished art prize project. I’m so glad you are getting to tell the stories and share the images of the people at Heartside. Hope to meet you too. I’m usually there on Wednesdays but I would love to watch the teaching of a pottery class so maybe I’ll cya there sometime in the future.
I loved hearing your thoughts on Heartside…..I have been volunteering there since the beginning of the year and LOVE it! I have met each of the people you mentioned, and look forward to going down there each Friday to see them and hear all about their week! I hope to meet you down there one Friday :). I came to know of Heartside when I started researching my ArtPrize piece…I am doing 52 watercolor portraits of the homeless downtown Grand Rapids. I would love for you to take a peek : https://thejourneytoartprize.blogspot.com/
Anyway, I am glad that you got a chance to meet the artists, and like I said, I hope to meet you down there!