By: Bill O’Connell
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
A new art gallery has opened in Fulton County. Wauseon to be precise. It features almost 100 pieces from many local artists that specialize in oils, water colors, pastels, various types of photography and many other artistic mediums. But you will not find it in a museum, or a galleria, or as a quaint little shop on Fulton Street or in one of the many strip malls on Shoop Ave. No, this new influx of local culture can be found in the newly renovated hallways of the Fulton County Health Center (FCHC).
It all came about as a collaborated effort between Neil Toeppe, President and CEO of the Swanton Chamber of Commerce and Patty Finn, CEO of the FCHC. Neil, who has organized the Swanton Fine Arts Festival the previous two years, was looking for a venue for some of the artists that had participated in the Swanton event, to display and possibly sell some of their work. Coincidentally, Patty was looking to put something on all the bare walls of the hospital after the recent renovation.
“I was in a meeting with Patty and I asked her if she would like to buy all the art at the exhibit,” Neil recounted. “She, of course, laughed.” At a later meeting Neil rephrased the question and asked Patty if she would like the art for free. “I like free,” she replied. And a partnership was born.
The next step was to find people who would volunteer to do the actual work of acquiring, organizing and properly displaying the art. Two people stepped up. Janice Fitzeneiter, and administrative assistant at FCHC, who had been responsible for buying artwork for the hospital in the past, was one. The other was Nora Sallows, a Wauseon resident and an award winning artist in her own right and the Executive Director of the Henry County Arts Council. It turned out to be a great fit to coordinate the project.
And like any good gallery the plan is to keep the displays fresh by relocating some pieces and switching out the artwork every three months with new pieces and new artists.
“We have 20 artists now and we’ll probably have more in May,” said Nora. “We plan to switch it out quarterly. This is going to be like the Spring show.”
The project, by design, will benefit the artists and the hospital at the same time. “Them (FCHC) partnering with us will provide artists with more exposure,” explained Nora. “As an artist you work alone all day in the studio. And if you create something and no one ever sees it what’s the point.”
Patients, hospital employees, and family and friends visiting will be able to enjoy the artwork instead of having to look at blank walls. It’s a win-win situation. “This is a beautiful facility,” continued Nora. “Just a beautiful place to display it.”
Most of the artwork is for sale, including some pieces painted by Nora who does most of her work in oils. Each hanging will have a card next to it that will include the name of the piece, the price and the contact information for a hospital representative who will coordinate the sale.
The works of art can be found throughout the hospital on four different floors. Hopefully, as interest grow, the display will be expanded.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at