Memorable gifts come in many forms.
At The Gift Gallery, a project of the Summit County DD (Developmental Disabilities), holiday shoppers will find one-of-a-kind works of art. The gift shop is filled with mixed media items that are created by the adults that work in the Dream Out Loud Studio.
Tricia Perduk, communications manager for the Summit DD, said the studio is an employment option for those adult with disabilities that are interested in the arts. The studio has been open for two years and the artists have participated in commercial as well as community projects.
"The adults have worked to create items for sale in The Gift Gallery as well as working with a number of community projects," Perduk said, noting that the studio furthers the Summit DD mission. "With one project, the Studio artists worked with Stow City Hall to create three custom chandeliers made from recycled plastic bottles to hang in the hall."
The studio also provides training lessons for the artists. Some of the training is conducted by well known local artists.
"We give lessons at the studio on different techniques and we bring in different artists from around the area," said Cecily Kazis, one of the assistants at the studio. "Several adults have taken lessons from Jack Richards, a local, well-known artist from Cuyahoga Falls."
Jacquie Owens, business and innovation manager at Summit DD, said the gift shop offers a variety of high quality and unique, mixed media items for sale that would make great Christmas gifts. The visual creations are made of a wide variety of materials such as paints, fabrics, newspapers, clay, paper, wood and common household items.
"We transitioned a production-based service – formerly clay crafters and custom stitches – to a fine arts program to allow for individuals with disabilities to explore their creativity in a fine arts setting," Owens said. "Right now, we serve 23 artists."
Prices for the original artwork range from $15 to $70.
"We also work on special request projects," Owens said. "If someone wants a special painting done as a gift for a loved one or a friend, they can come in and we can have an artist create the request."
Original art works are also available for sale at gallery shows that are listed on the website, summitdd.org. Proceeds from each sale benefit the artists.
The artists' works have found a following around the area and around the state. Two of the artists had original works chosen for display in the Ohio governor's office in 2014.