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"This business of art"

On the evening of May 3 the Hillsdale Art Supply Company will open its doors.by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Hillsdale Art Supply Company owners Denise Rumsey and Ryan McAbery, with one of the many pieces of
art that can be purchased at their new store.

The store is a joint venture by Ryan McAbery and Denise Rumsey. Art has played different but important roles in both women’s lives in the past — for McAbery, a vendor at the Portland Saturday Market, art has served as a form of financial support; for Rumsey, a self-taught self-portraitist, it has been a form of therapy.

The thing about being artists, of course, is that you end up with sundry art supplies. While others might write this off as a nuisance, McAbery saw its potential as a business opportunity.

“I was cleaning my studio, and I just had so many art supplies that I knew I wasn’t going to use,” she recalled.”

Eureka.

“I called Denise, and I was like, ‘Do you want to do this with me? Let’s do it, let’s do it!’”

McAbery didn’t need to ask twice. She and Rumsey decided to open a shop where they could sell partially-used, discounted art supplies, along with pieces by some of their favorite artists, many of them from Southwest.

They set up shop in the only vacant space nearby, a 1,000-square-foot veritable hole-in-the-wall in Hillsdale with lots of natural light and in close proximity to area schools, dovetailing with the store’s mission to be kid-friendly:

McAbery and Rumsey have outfitted the space with two tables, or “workstations,” equipped with a myriad of art supplies free to budding artists with a hankering to create.

“Especially during the school year, you get the moms that have the 4-year-olds that need something to do,” McAbery explained, who “can come in for a couple hours and then inspire their children to learn how to think creatively just by having access to the table.”

Summer camps and after-school art classes, including one taught by a Wilson High School student, will be offered at the store as well.

“Every child is an artist until somebody tells them that they’re not,” McAbery explained. “They need to be able to come in here and express that in a supportive environment. If you want to draw, or glue, or fingerpaint a smiley face, it’s something that we all can do.”

And if parents purchase their own art supplies in-store, McAbery said they will be happy to help guide their own artistic processes:

“We believe that everybody should be allowed to make something amazing.”