Jane Shatz has an enthusiasm and warmth that is infectious.
The director of the Morris County Arts Workshop (MCAW) beams with pride when she discusses her arts programs, her colleagues and all of the local artists she deals with on a regular basis.
Shatz has had much to be enthusiastic of late. She has been involved in the origami angel program for Sarah Stover, the Chester teen fighting cancer as well as the.
And MCAW recently had a fundraiser event held at the Hive in the Chester Springs Mall.
What is the Hive? Well, it is a place that MCAW has secured as an indoor gallery and a place for people to come and make art.
"Over the summer at the mall we saw young people were making a gum wall and we realized there was no place for making public art," Shatz said. "And it is needed. I approached the local manager of the mall and asked about some of the plain brick spaces and was told no."
Shatz, is not one who takes no for an answer.
"I started to get a little agitated. This is our mall. This is our community. Malls all over look the same and we need to reclaim the space," Shatza said. "Why should we look at an endless brick wall?"
Shatz took her appeal to the owners of the complex and had a meeting right there in the mall in the Starbucks.
"We started to talk about 20 spots we identified in the mall where we could do this work," Shatz said. "And we came up with an agreement."
As they walked to look at the spots in the mall where the exterior public art would be displayed, they passed the former Blue Tulip storefront.
"I pointed to this spot and said that it had been vacant for three years and wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a place where art could be made, a performance space be placed and an indoor gallery be featured," Shatz said. "And Stewart Steepleton who represented the owners said we could have it for a year."
The excitement Shatz feels over the Hive and the opportunity it represents is palpable.
"We can now come together in this place and share humanity. When you bring artists together they create. Artists are not just creatorss they are problem solvers," Shatz said. "There are many ways to paint a tree, or play a piece of music. Solving the problem of how is what makes them problem solvers."
According to Shatz, the community needs places like the Hive now more than ever.
"We are going to be a place where there is performance space and a place for people to paint or write or create pottery or music. The evenings we will be open for teenagers to come and have a place to express themselves. No one needs to feel isolated and alone anymore," Shatz said. "No one else can do this. This is a place people need it more than ever and we will create beautiful things. Great things."
For more information on the Hive and the Morris County Arts Workshop visit their website.