Frame of Mind
By Piper McDaniel
Hayfork’s Art Shop Shares Art and Inspiration
The Art Shop in Hayfork opened up last June, and Hayfork really needed it, according to owners Lisa Hammill and Ryan Howell.
“When people walk into The Art Shop, the whole point is to bring them to a new place,” says Lisa Hammill. “You’re not in Hayfork anymore, you’re in a little entity of its own; I think we’ve definitely created that.”
A combination gallery, silkscreen shop, studio space and community art center, The Art Shop is helping to pioneer an art scene in the community of Hayfork. Says Howell, “Art is something everybody does, but no one has an outlet for it here.”
Hammill formerly owned Head Change Arts in Hayfork, but felt constrained by the small space and had a vision of something better. When the Art Shop location became available, she took advantage of the opportunity.
Both dedicated to their community, Hammill and Howell had a vision of providing an art space accessible anyone who wanted to use it. The Art Shop offers studio space and supplies, and people of all ages are invited to come use them.
The art space is geared toward children, who are welcome to come make art for free. The Art Shop hosts themed craft days every Saturday, such as seed art or painting, and it partners with local schools and organizations to host special activities to educate kids about other subjects while teaching them how to make art. “There’s not a lot of art in school, and this is a space where kids can come and be creative,” Hammill says.
The Art Shop is also a great resource for parents, who can have access to an artistic outlet for their kids that they may not be able to provide at home. Hammill, a mother of three, says, “Art gives kids a sense of creation and direction because they’re creating it. We want the kids to create without having the boundaries of, ‘Oh, this is wrong,’ or ‘It needs to be like this.’ One of the nice things about art is that it is always growing or changing. There are no mistakes.”
As artists, Hammill and Howell understand the importance of having a culture of art as source of learning and inspiration. “I get inspired by my friends’ art,” Hammill explains, “and then once I start working, I inspire myself. It’s like, ‘Wow, I just made that out of nothing. Isn’t that awesome?’”
“It really is kind of a snowball thing,” Howell agrees. “Having the shop here for people, it helps give someone the motivation they need to get started.” The pair are also excited to provide exhibition space for local artists. They host art openings and have visiting artist exhibits in rotation.
The retail space boasts an impressive collection of art, jewelry and edgy clothing. The Art Shop is also home to Howell and Hammill’s busy silkscreen business, an essential component to the viability of The Art Shop.
“I see someone wearing something we printed every day,” Howell says.
Additionally, Hammill and Howell design hats and clothes, and develop and screen their own designs, presenting a style that is simultaneously handcrafted and urban influenced.
Both self-taught, Hammill and Howell seem to have no constraints in their progression as artists, engaging in an endless variety of mediums and styles. Hammill is a seasoned glass blower, dabbling in drawing, and has lately turned her energies to painting. Howell has experience in photography and jewelry making, and is experimenting with stencil art and crafting handmade leather books.
With the necessarily optimistic mentality of do-it-yourselfers, the two created a space for themselves as artists and built a way to make their passion for art into their lifestyle.
“I started painting the floor of The Art Shop,” Hammill says. “The shop itself is an ever-changing art project.”
The Art Shop is a labor of love. The gallery and studio space are sustained by donations from the community and profits from the silkscreen business. Hammill and Howell do it because they’re generous people who want to share their passion: An amazing gift in a place where you want art but don’t have enough, or when you didn’t even know you wanted art in the first place.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am - 4pm
7090 Hwy 3 Unit A, Hayfork