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The Art Farm
Cultivating Indiana Artistry
By Jim Mount
Fort Wayne Reader
Driving just a few miles North of Fort Wayne towards Spencerville easily becomes entering another world. Amish farms dot the countryside and horses out in pasture graze along Cuba Road going towards County Line Road North. Every so often you'll pass a horse and buggy, maybe see a team of horses pulling a plow or see farmhouses where the laundry is put out on the line to dry. Life seems to operate a little slower out here and it isn't exactly where you'd expect to find an art gallery/studio but this is exactly where you'll find the Art Farm.
Situated in a renovated Amish farmhouse, the Art Farm is a studio/exhibit run by Lisa Vetter and Paul Siefert. Entering the renovated studio portion of the property is walking into an exhibition room where Vetter and Seifert are putting the finishing touches on a December exhibition, a cultivation of various works of art done by artists across the country. Vetter and Siefert are a happily married couple and professional artists who not only produce their own work but use their home in the farmhouse as a gallery and studio. Having been engaged in the art scene for about 15 years, Vetter and Seifert built their art careers from a part time basis. “We started probably about three years part time before we got enough movement to quit our day jobs, so to speak, and engage in art full time,” says Vetter.
According to Vetter and Seifert, the location deep in rural country is perfect for their establishment. Buying the property in December 2003, Vetter and Siefert worked on renovating the former Amish farmhouse and barn, moving into the location in the Spring of 2006. The property itself is 150 years old and when Vetter and Siefert bought it, they had the monumental challenge of realizing their dreams with the severely dilapidated property. “It's been a labor of love and it's a beautiful little place.” Vetter says of the time and effort taken to make the farmhouse into what it is now.
“Very fulfilling too.” Seifert adds, “It was 100% renovation but overall the rebuilding of the house has been quite fun.”
Vetter is quick to agree. “To take something that old and give it a new life, it'll have another 150 years in it now for sure.”
As professional artists, Vetter and Seifert promote their own art and other artists by through art fairs. “We do juried art fairs for a living, so we travel usually starting in April or May through October,” Vetter explains. “This year we actually went into November which we don't normally do because of the change in weather. We travel in a vintage 1977 motor home and we pull a trailer with all of our work in it. That in itself is limiting as to how late in the season we go as it starts getting a little cold.”
The Art Farm has been around the country, participating in exhibits nationwide.
Besides participating in art shows, the Art Farm is itself an art exhibit where artists can apply to participate, in a sense a juried art exhibit all their own, “When we used to live in town,” Vetter says, “we used to do this in town for one weekend, we'd turn our house into a gallery for the weekend and invite other artists. At that time we'd focus on local artists because there weren't that many opportunities for local artists, but now there's all kinds of stuff going on. Now that we have evolved into this space I do a lot of regional artists because we have friends all over the country that we've done shows with.”
During the off-season, when not on the road (January through March), Vetter holds workshops consisting of various forms of art media as Vetter explains, “I've done jewelry workshop, I've done mosaic workshop , mixed media, which is art using different materials of familiar objects.”
The Art Farm is currently running a Holiday exhibit. Going on through December 30th and open Wednesday through Sunday 12 noon to 6 PM , Vetter and Seifert are hosting an exhibit of local and regional artists for the holiday season, “This is our third year doing the Holiday show in this building. When we were living in this building we couldn't really host an event in here. So when we finally got into the house we were able to finally realize that vision of using this space for that very reason, for doing classes and exhibits. It has been a long time coming but it is starting to grow.”
Talking about art in general Vetter is philosophical. “I enjoy doing art and people doing a hands on experience because when you sit down and put your minds and your hands to work, you realize it's not that easy. Artists make it look easy because we've been doing it and doing it for years.”
In the future Vetter hopes to do more workshops and is satisfied overall about their progress saying about the Art Farm, “Something I've been doing the past few years is working with kids. I've done artist residency at an elementary school the last two years in Fort Wayne and I did a weeklong thing with FAME a few years ago when I went Northwest Indiana and worked with elementary school kids. So this year for the first time we had field trips out here with Kindergärtners, so we had a week-long field trip. Every day a bus load of Kindergärtners would come out to explore the farm and do some drawings, it was awesome. So that is something that I see in the future as the Art Farm continues to grow.”
And as the Art Farm continues on into it's 8th year and continues to grow, Vetter and Seifert look to cultivate a wider range art appreciation in NorthEast Indiana.
For more information regarding exhibits including The December Holiday Exhibit, visit the Art Farms Facebook page or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org