Dekker: Garden Gallery celebrates first year in Tinley Park
By Julie Dekker Citizen Journalistemail@example.com August 1, 2013 3:02PM
Garden Gallery clients and director Beth Kopf (far right) pose by a Bettenhausen Fiat that has been turned into art to promote the gallery. | Supplied photo
Updated: September 5, 2013 6:13AM
On July 11, Garden Gallery and Studio celebrated its first anniversary in Tinley Park.
The art gallery, 17459 Oak Park Ave., helps artists with developmental disabilities impact the world of art while breaking down social barriers by showcasing the works of its artists alongside those of other local artists.
Beth Kopf, the gallery’s art director, said it opened with the hope of offering a “comfortable space for artists of all skill levels to work together, side by side, because in art there are no disabilities. We are so pleased with the first-year success of the gallery.”
They have made great strides over the past year in connecting with the community through art. I visit the gallery frequently and find it a creative and welcoming environment. Kopf and volunteers assist their clients in all types of art creation, from painting and drawing to weaving, pottery and origami. They also encourage visitors to join in the creative process.
“The people of Tinley Park have really embraced us and what we are doing here,” Kopf said. “There have been lots of opportunities to get involved in village events.”
Garden Center Services executive director Gerry Beagles said the “Tinley Park community has been tremendously supportive of the gallery since we opened our doors.”
To help the gallery celebrate its anniversary, Whole Foods Market of Orland Park teamed with Kopf and her artists to create something special. Using almost 40 cases of nonperishable food donated by Whole Foods, the artists created a castle — complete with towers, a drawbridge and even a dragon.
The castle not only showcased the gallery’s talent for creativity but also gave it the opportunity to support another Tinley Park organization. After the July 11 anniversary celebration, the castle was dismantled and all the food items were given to the food pantry of Together We Cope, a social service agency that helps the needy.
If you’ve driven by the Garden Gallery lately, you may have noticed a cool, little yellow Fiat parked on the front lawn. In another generous show of support, Bettenhausen Fiat of Tinley Park, which is across from the gallery at 17514 Oak Park Ave., decorated and donated the car to the art gallery to help promote its mission.
The gallery held a contest among its clients and staff to design artwork to adorn the car. Employees of Bettenhausen Fiat voted on the artwork, choosing a colorful entry by Melanie Duffy that depicts puzzle pieces.
Bettenhausen Fiat had the artwork printed onto a car wrap and presented the car to the gallery, where it will be on display through the summer. On Saturdays, you can view the car at the farmers market in Zabrocki Plaza in the village’s downtown.
“It has been a wonderful experience being a part of the Tinley Park neighborhood,” Kopf said.
Garden Gallery and Studio has been expanding its connection with the community by hosting field trips and private parties and holding First Friday openings each month.
At the risk of engaging in what might be viewed as a shameless plug, I must mention that the gallery’s featured artist for August is none other than myself.
I’m proud to have been asked to participate and happy to be a part of the creative, artistic environment that Garden Gallery and Studio has brought to Tinley Park. I hope to see you there.