Anna Arbor

Anna Arbor

The Founding of Village Artisans
and a Shining Artistic Career

Anna Arbor came to Yellow Springs with fellow artist Tom Verdon in 1981. She held a BA in Art Education and an MA in Art Therapy. Anna felt that Yellow Springs held professional potential for young artists. In 1983 Anna became a founding member of Village Artisans, a new artist cooperative that opened at 220 Xenia Ave. The shop sold handmade batik, jewelry, needlework, paintings, prints, photographs, pottery, stained glass, weaving, wood, copper enameling, and children’s clothes. In 2013 VA celebrated its thirty-year anniversary.

When Village Artisans opened its doors, there were 28 local artists involved. Another founding member, Joyce Keister, said of the co-op, “Yellow Springs has always been known as an artist town. They just came out of the woodwork when they heard about us. They would come to the door and ask if they could join”. Four women began as the original management team, including Keister (weaving), Gail Kort (pen and ink), Christa Metz (needlepoint) and Deidre Roche, who handled the business side of the venture. There was an annual membership fee of $225.00 and the shop received 10% commission on sales. Members also took turns shop sitting for a couple of days each month.

To celebrate their opening, the members had a creative idea. Artists of the cooperative created a 40-foot nylon and papier-mâché dragon to parade down the sidewalks of Yellow Springs. It took 6 artists tucked inside to make it move. A hand disguised as a tongue wiggled from the mouth. Gail Kort led the Dragon Project. Anna says that the Dragon still lives at the old Union Schoolhouse.

The list of original artists members of Village Artisans was impressive. They included: Anna Arbor, Marcelle Blau, Karren Brito, Karen Deibel, Gerry Fogarty, Debra Groves, David Hergesheimer, Joyce Keister, Gail Kort, Christa Metzger, Kathy Moulton (a 2013 current member as well!) Suzanne Patterson, Deidre Roche, Dianne Rutter, Kelly Thomas, Caroline Van Ausdal, Maria Varandani, Leslie Williamson, Mary Wynne, Gail Zimmerman, Jon Whitmore, Hanlo von Gierke, Mel Acheson, Leslie Thornhill, Deborah Block, Kasses Andrews, Arlene Wagner and Robin Zimmerman.

During their first year, members of the co-op realized that they needed a revenue generating event and a special occasion to showcase their art. Village Artisans began putting on Art in the Yard, a juried art festival to occur each August in Yellow Springs. Originally it was held in Yellow Springs’ Kinds Yard. As it grew, the venue was moved to the much larger Mills Lawn School grounds, and the festival’s name was changed to Art on the Lawn. For the first five years of the festival, Anna Arbor was in charge. At the end of this five-year period she left Village Artisans for other professional endeavors, but 5 years later she returned to the co-op once again. Anna coordinated the festival for the next 5 years! Fundamental goals of this annual arts festival were increased contact between the artists and community members, and introducing new artistic talent to Yellow Springs. By 1986, Anna Arbor, David Hergesheimer and Suzanne Patterson were the co-managers of the cooperative and it was thriving, “We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” said Anna in an article in the Yellow Springs News. David Hergesheimer commented, “We hope that, in Yellow Springs, people don’t see art as something to see at a museums once a year. We want to make art a part of our town, a part of everyone’s daily life, something that surrounds us every day.”

When asked about her most memorable artistic experiences related to Yellow Springs, Anna cited an opportunity through Antioch College. JoAnn Wallace of the college’s International program in the 1990’s suggested Anna for an artist exchange in Brazil. Partners in America financed the project and Anna was able to visit Brazil, teach workshops and present an exhibit of her work. Jon Hudson and Shirley Mullins were also part of this program. Following her time in Brazil, Anna then hosted and helped a Brazilian artist for two months in Yellow Springs, enabling her to present an exhibit at the Oten Gallery.

While trained in a variety of media, Anna spent many years using paper as her main artistic material. She became well known for her exquisite three-dimensional paper sculptures of mini spaces, and these have been exhibited and sold around the county. In more recent years Anna has focused on acrylic painting.

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