Friendship Heart Gallery & Studio, an extension of Friendship Community, is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit creative arts Studio for Artists with Intellectual Disability and Autism celebrating personalities and talents through free expression and collaboration. For over ten years, we have been encouraging the Artists to share their innermost thoughts, feelings and dreams with the world through their creativity. Each day we honor our vision statement of Expressing Capabilities.
Over forty unique Artists work with professional Instructors and volunteers, in additional to visiting community artists, to create and sell artistic masterpieces while developing a sense of purpose, value, freedom and joy. We offer instructional art classes five days a week using various techniques and both traditional and unconventional media.
It has been a long but immensely fun road to where we are now and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for us! Thank you for growing with us through the last 14 years and we hope you continue to grow with us in the future!!
Read below to learn how we grew from a single room to a 750 square-foot professional Studio and two Gallery retail locations!
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Agape Studio - Lititz, Pennsylvania (2007-2008)
In 2007, the initial concept of the Heart Studio began in a small room in the lower level of the Agape building on Friendship Community's main campus. 12 Friendship Community Individuals expressed interest in painting and socializing; thus a small club was formed. The room was stocked with various supplies and media, including acrylic paint, markers, colored pencils and assorted craft/multimedia materials. The first finished products included painted glass vases, wooden toys and original canvas designs.
Pictured below, left: Heart Artists left to right, Tim D., Mary Lou G., Connie W. and Barry G., enjoying their new space.
Pictured below, right top: Heart Artist from left to right top, Martha H., Denise M., Barry G. and Tim D.. Bottom, Mary Lou G..
Pictured below, right bottom: Heart Artist from left to right top, Patrick R., Fred F., Keith L., Janice S. and Neal B.. Left to right bottom, Tim G. and Amy B..
The heART of Friendship Art Gallery & Studio - Ephrata, Pennsylvania (2008-2013)
In 2008, the small club in Agape started feeling a bit cramped. It was then decided that a new Studio space needed to be acquired to accommodate all of the current Artists and the others who wanted to join the fun! A larger Studio space was found on Main Street in Ephrata and so the official move began.
Following the move to Main Street, we not only got an official name for our small club, "The heART of Friendship Art Gallery", but we also gained a few new members, bringing us to 18 incredible Individuals. This was our first opportunity to truly showcase the talents and creative abilities of the Heart Artists as the Gallery exhibitions introduced new life and ideas to the downtown Ephrata scene.
Pictured below, left top: Heart Artists and Team Members at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Studio & Gallery
Pictured below, left bottom: Heart Artist Bob showing off his masterpieces in the new Gallery.
Pictured below, right: Heart Artists creating in the new spacious Studio.
The Friendship Heart Gallery & Studio - Lancaster, Pennsylvania (2013-Present)
Eager to be a part of the downtown Lancaster arts scene, in September 2013, we decided to both relocate our thriving Studio and Gallery to our current location on North Water Street and to rebrand to "Friendship Heart Gallery". In addition to an exciting retail opportunity, this new blank canvas of Studio space offered more room for everything; with over 70 Heart Artists participating, more space was needed for Artists to move freely, keep their supplies in order and create a safe space to dry artwork. It was at this location that we also transitioned from our club status to an official licensed Day Services program; still maintaining a club two evenings per week.
We are proud of our current Gallery as it features updated lighting and movable walls, in addition to housing an individual professional portfolio for each Artist. We have expanded our retail items as well to include jewelry, notecards and home décor from our Primitives by Kathy Collaborative Collection. With the outpouring of positive support from our local community, the Heart Artists have exhibited in numerous businesses throughout Lancaster city and surrounding areas as well as worldwide locations!
Pictured below, left: Heart Artists receiving instruction in the new large Studio space.
Pictured below, right top: Heart Artists and Team Members at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Gallery & Studio.
Pictured below, right bottom: The new spacious Gallery space.
Pictured left: A full class actively participates within the Studio (2019).
Pictured right: The Studio redesign to safely accommodate Heart Artists on a modified schedule (2021).
Shoppes at Bloomfield Village - Lancaster, Pennsylvania (2019-Present)
Based on the success of the downtown Lancaster location, we decided to open a second retail Gallery on April 24, 2019 at our Human Resources Office location on Bloomfield Drive. This space offers an intimate gallery feel without the hassle of downtown parking and is perfect for those who live in the Lititz / Manheim area as we offer the same selection of items for purchase at the main Gallery location.
Pictured below, left: The main exhibit wall in the Gallery.
Pictured below, right: The storefront for the second Gallery location and Human Resources department