If ever there was a place where art lights a fire in the souls of visitors and the community, the Creative Fish Art Gallery in Syracuse has to be it. With lots of character and colorful charm, the intriguing gallery overflows with tiny treasures and unique works of art created by an eclectic mix of local, regional and international artists. You’ll find everything from intricately designed wearables to mix media fish and whimsical paintings.
Owner Kathleen Boyts wanted to make a difference and put Syracuse on the art world map when she opened her gallery in 2009. She displays the works of some 85 Northern Indiana artists. "I have a passion for helping artists," Kathleen says. "At the same time, I want to make art accessible to the people of Syracuse and establish art as an integral part of our community."
She's come to love her adopted hometown. That's one of the reasons she makes it easy for local children, some who couldn't otherwise afford it, to participate in free classes. "I love to see that light bulb moment when they catch on to art," she says. In the summer, children on vacation often take her one-day summer camp classes. She offers classes for adults, too, including jewelry making, oil painting and ceramic design. Many are one-time classes, so out-of-town visitors take advantage of them, too. A particular favorite is "Ready Paint Fire Pottery." You don't have to sign up, but just come during business hours and pick a pottery piece that you can paint yourself before its glazed and fired.
But it's the gallery’s artwork that intrigues visitors the most. One artist paints her designs on jackets made from recycled materials. Another dyes silk scarves, and another makes loveable robots by welding junk such as electric circuit boxes together. You'll find delicately painted wine glasses, Raku pottery that glows with metallic color, and high-end pearl, silver and gold jewelry.
One folk artist creates whimsical paintings of mermaids, fish and flowers on canvas and other mediums. Another makes man cave signs out of recycled steel. "Many of the upcycled artworks are created with repurposed materials," Kathleen says. She's proud that the wide range of prices fit any pocketbook, from affordable gifts to high-end finds.
Kathleen's own background in art dates to her childhood, when "I always messed around with art." She was majoring in child psychology and physical education at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, when the head of the art department, who had heard about the oil paintings Kathleen created in her spare time, urged her to change her major to art. She met her husband, Lawrence, in college. They moved to Syracuse in 1984 and have four children and four grandchildren.
She doesn't plan to leave. "This is the greatest business because of the wonderful people you meet and talented artists you meet," she says. "Life is too short to not have a good time. I want to impact everyone who walks in the door."
Creative Fish Art Gallery, LLC & ArtZie Workshop