Lake Area Arts Group on Display at Arts Place, Set Attendance Record

Artist Lisa Brunswick (left) talks about her piece, "Wanderer," with Lisa Vondrell during the Lake Area Arts Group exhibit opening reception Friday evening.
Staff Writer

A new exhibit is officially open at the Arts Place Auglaize Mercer Center and some of the names hanging under the works may be familiar to locals. The Lake Area Arts Group formally opened its second annual gallery at the downtown St. Marys art center Friday evening with a well-attended event.

One hundred and six people — a new event record for the center — packed into Arts Place to see the work of 24 local artists.

Guests had the chance to not only see the art but often times, the artist who created the piece was on hand to answer any questions about the work.

"That's the advantage to having local artists," Arts Place Director Heather Dowell said. "If you go to a bigger center in New York or London or somewhere like that and you wonder how a piece came to be, you can't ask [Pablo] Picasso or [Claude] Monet why they made something the way they did but here, you can find the person who made it and they can explain it to you."

One of the younger artists with work on display was Haley Heitkamp, a senior at Marion Local High School. She said she has been working on perfecting her art skills for a few years and is looking at taking what she has learned to the next level of schooling — sort of.

"I'm planning on going to the University of Cincinnati for architecture right now," she said.

Heitkamp is already adept at using technology to create works of art as one of her pieces, "Fallen Heroes," was receiving lots of attention. The picture shows a United States Marine in his dress uniform, medals hanging off his chest as he looks down with his white-gloved hands pressed together, as if in prayer.

Inspiring artists — such as Heitkamp — is the meaning of the LAAG, Stuckman said. He added that the group is a little unusual in that it doesn't keep a roster or minutes for its meetings and there are no officers in the group. Founded by the late Dr. Tom Knapke, the group was designed to be a way for artists to meet their peers, learn new techniques and inspire a new generation to carry on the skills learned in the fine arts.

The LAAG exhibit is on display during Art Place's regular hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday until March 29. Those interested in visiting a LAAG meeting, they are held on the second Monday of each month at the Mercer County Library in Celina. More information on the group can be found online at