(PHOTO: Story Art owner Mel Richer stands in the front from of the old Bell House at the corner of Stittsville Main Street and Elm Crescent. The main floor will be a boutique and showcase for local art. Photo by Barry Gray.)
Stittsville residents can look forward to having a new spot to be inspired and creative. Set to open on December 6, the owner of Story Art Creative Centre & Boutique wants it to be a gathering place for the local arts community.
“Why not a hub to spark creativity and have a place for arts in the community?” says owner Mel Richer. “We are excited, hopeful and hope the community will rally around us.”
Located in the old Bell House on Stittsville Main Street (most recently home to the Brown Bear Daycare), the beautiful house has found new life.
On the main floor, there is the crystal nook, filled with gorgeous rocks and crystals as well as jewelry. Rocks have a personal meaning for Richer.
“They help inspire my art work – the texture, the colour – they are beautiful,” she says.
Opposite the crystal nook, the room will be filled with curated art as well as vintage and retro antiques. Richer is looking for artists to display their art – and the definition of art is broad.
“Anything in the creative world,” said Richer. “I have a voice and something to share. I really want to help others share their stories.”
The boutique part of Story Art will open before Christmas. In the New Year, classes in the Creative Centre will begin. The second floor of the house will be dedicated to creative classes and will also have a space for children’s birthday parties.
The basement, which will be finished over the next few months, will be a space that available for rentals.
All of this is the brainchild of Richer. Born and raised in Kanata, Richer said she always knew that she wanted to be both a writer and an artist.
As a teenager, she studied art at De La Salle Secondary School and then photography at another school. After high school she headed to Algonquin College and that lead to a career working in marketing and communications.
So Richer’s dream to work as a writer had come true. The artist part of the dream was still a work in progress.
As life goes, art was on the back burner for Richer. Then, one day, she saw a call for applications for artists at the Ottawa Airport Community Art Program.
Much to her surprise, her application was successful.
“Oh my gosh. What have I done,” Richer says of her reaction. “But let’s go!”
And go she did. After the exhibition she had 25 pieces of work sitting around and Richer was wondering what to do with them.
Her son Oliver had the answer and suggested she hang them in the wall of her office. And she did. Having the art around sparked her creativity.
From there, she had an opportunity to submit some of her work for a fundraiser, so she decided to look at creating some work that was more accessible.
“What could I do that would be smaller or easier?” she says.
Looking into her yard, she took inspiration from the larch cones scattered across the lawn. She cleaned them and incased them in resin to create jewelry. After this successful jewelry creation, she started creating other resin jewelry using materials like dried flowers, mica and buttons.
As Richer’s art grew, so did her passion for sharing it. Soon she was looking for a retail outlet.
“This feels like a good space for me” she said. “We are thrilled to be a part of Stittsville Main Street,” she says.
Now, Richer’s dream of being both a writer and artist have come full circle. A good friend and business advisor, Irene Jaroszuk of Savvy Sage Consulting, says “she’s had this vision forever.”