One evening, while walking down Main Street and enjoying the public art that has become prevalent in Chattanooga, Ellen Heavilon happened upon Homes, a public work by Frances McDonald, Julie Clark and Mark Making. Homes is a sculptural pillar of mosaic tiles that were individually created by homeless persons in the Chattanooga area. Ellen was so moved by the power of the art and the quality of the pieces that she was inspired to build upon the concept of ‘Home’. She had originally thought this would simply involve getting some art supplies together and taking them to the Community Kitchen. After talking with Brother Ron Fender, the Outreach Manager, she realized there was much talent in the population and expanded the idea to what is now the H♥ART Gallery. With the help of her husband, Jay, the Heavilons purchased an abandoned building on the Southside of Chattanooga and renovations began in January of 2010.
Here is a short video of our history.
In addition to supplying materials to the Community Kitchen, weekly art classes were started with the goal of creating inventory for the gallery. By allowing people to play and dabble with art materials, Ellen was hoping to find artists that were motivated to create a marketable body of work. This idea of “creative classes” has expanded into eight art classes that are offered each week at various non-profits around town. This has shifted our focus from exclusively serving the homeless artist to including other non-traditional artists in the area that otherwise may not have the opportunity for artistic expression. We occasionally find someone who wants to take their process from creating “art for arts sake” to sharing it with others. These are the artists whose work is exhibited in the H♥ART Gallery.
We currently invite our community class participants and those artists who meet our criteria to come to the gallery on Wednesdays and Thursdays to make art. We offer a meal and share our space for creating and our time for interacting, We also invite groups to the gallery for tours, special events, and community projects. We depend on the generosity of others to keep our doors open so we hope you will think of us when you’re shopping for something of rare and unusual beauty to hang on your walls, purchasing gifts for others, and deciding where to send your charitable donations.
Founder of H♥ART Gallery, Ellen Heavilon has been a lover of art since graduating college. As a stay-at-home Mom most of her adult life she found herself looking for 'what is next' when the idea of the gallery came to her. As someone who is comfortable in service she is using her many years of volunteering to focus on one mission that centers on creativity and giving individuals, who would not otherwise have an opportunity, the ability to creatively express themselves with the possibility of sharing in the proceeds of their efforts.
October 15, 2009