When she decided to return to Beatty, Mary Seale wasn’t sure what she was going to do.
“I knew I wanted a shop,” she said. “But I didn’t know what it would be.”
It could have been a hair salon since she had done that sort of work for years.
Instead, she and sister-in-law Anne Grace decided to open an art and craft studio and store in the little historic building at 401 W. Main St., that has served as many things, including a church, a water office, a gift shop, and a facility of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe.
“We’re both artists and this is a lot more fun,” Seale said.
“I wanted to have a studio,” said Grace, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and is working on a Master of Fine Arts from the same institution.
“We like to give back to the community,” said Seale, who has deep roots in Beatty as a member of the Strozzi family.
Grace said she wants to expose people to activities that will help them discover a creative side they may have never known they had.
“I like to teach,” Grace said. “If you don’t experience it, you don’t yet know what inspires you.”
They have already begun teaching art and craft classes, only charging for materials to keep the program going. Seale said this is particularly important because “there is no art in the schools anymore.”
Besides their own work, the shop features work by many local artists and craftspeople. They have items by Mike Aragon, Jo Gardner, Betsy Reed, Char Shaffer, Evan and Molly Thompson, Martha Wehrly, and others.
Grace, who works in sculpture, ceramic and glass, is having a kiln installed on the premises.
Studio 401 Arts is having a grand opening on Friday, Dec. 9, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. A reception lasting until 6 p.m. is scheduled for after the ceremony.
Richard Stephens is a freelance writer living in Beatty.