published Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Art studio refurbished

Main Street site to display creative works of homeless

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee Jake Marshall, a contractor working on 110 East Main Street, hauls duct work to the roof of the newly restored building. This is one of several formerly rundown buildings which have been restored in efforts to rejuvenate Chattanooga's Southside. The building was restored by Chazier Incorporated, a Chattanooga contracting business. The restoration and rebuilding began in March 2009 and is expected to be complete in the first two weeks of October 2010.

A building restoration project is nearly complete at the corner of Main Street and Rossville Avenue, and will add new condos and an art studio to the historic corridor, according to the owner.

Jay Heavilon said he and his wife purchased 110 E. Main St. with the goal of converting it into an art gallery to benefit the area’s homeless, with living space upstairs for themselves and for the artist in residence.

The building, which he estimates more than 100 years old, has served people in a variety of callings, including stints as a hardware store and a strip club, he said.

“When we bought it, it was four brick walls, there was no roof, it was all burned out and trees were growing up in the middle. It was a disaster,” Heavilon said.

As part of the restoration, he tore off the false front that he estimates was installed in the mid-1950s, and has attempted to restore the structure to “its classic 1910 look,” he said.

Seija Ojanpera, the assistant director at the Hart Gallery and artist in residence, said that the art sold in the gallery will benefit local homeless people.

About 15 homeless, refugee, disabled and other non-traditional artists help create the art, and receive part of the proceeds from its sale, she said.

“Sixty percent goes to the artist, 10 percent goes to the organization where they came from, and 30 percent goes toward art supplies,” Ojanpera said.

With a grand opening planned sometime this month, she’s trying to get the word out to potential artists.

“The gallery is to show and sell the art, and we’ll still continue to do classes in the community,” she said.

Sarah Morgan, program officer at the Lyndhurst Foundation, said the Heavilons have done “a beautiful job” restoring the building.

“The Hart Gallery really shows what can happen when you restore one of those older buildings and take it back to what it was before, along with a twist of the new,” Morgan said. “I hope everybody does the kind of restoration that they’ve done.”

Art will be priced from $10 up to $200, depending on the quality, size and framing.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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