By Mary Van Jura
The Soap Gallery, downtown Youngstown’s only independently run art gallery, had its high-attendance grand opening Friday.
Artists set up along the sidewalk outside the gallery to display and sell their work. There was live music, and refreshments were offered inside the gallery. Approximately 300 people came to the grand opening.
Daniel Rauschenbach worked this past year with his business partners Stephen Poullas, Chris Yambar and Sarra Mohn to open The Soap Gallery. All of those running the gallery are former Youngstown State University graduates.
Rauschenbach graduated with a degree in American studies in 2012 from YSU and has worked on projects with The Lemon Grove (now The 110 Space) and the M Gallery, a recently opened art gallery in the Erie Terminal Place downtown.
“I try to be a part of as much as I can,” he said.
The Soap Gallery plans to continue collaborating with other galleries in Youngstown. Rauschenbach is a firm believer that Youngstown is a place where people should want to live because it is a cultural hub. He aims to keep YSU graduates here and with jobs.
“Youngstown is getting smaller population-wise, so The Soap Gallery is something to attract people here,” Rauschenbach said. “We’re trying to do something local, but get national attention.”
The Soap Gallery will operate as a hybrid between for profit and nonprofit. Proceeds from the events they host will assist the gallery, the artists involved and separate civic organizations.
“We’re just benefitting the whole community at the moment,” Rauschenbach said. “It’s definitely a good vibe right now.”
Among the artists selling the work outside Soap were Sara and Tony Ciccarelli. Sara has been creating art for 15 years and her husband Tony only began six months ago.
“My mother would take me to festivals as a kid and sparked the interest in me,” Sara said.
Sara said that her art is an outlet for her to deal with her depression and to also honor her mother who passed away. She loves realism, although she finds it challenging, and focuses on a Geisha art style. Tony is into creating mixed media pieces. Their art can be viewed at geishaart.net.
Lynn Cardwell also set up at the Soap Gallery to sell her glass jewelry. Cardwell uses a kiln to melt and shape the glass and creates intricate, unique patterns on jewelry pieces.
“I have been a potter for a long time, and I teach pottery at the YMCA,” Cardwell said.
She also is a member of the Classical Strings Quartet, which plays weddings, events and pop-up shows. The Quartet’s website is classicalstrings.indiemade.com.
Rauschenbach said he hopes the place will last a while and that Youngstown will embrace all of the talent in the area. The whole idea of The Soap Gallery is for local artists to get recognized for their work.
The Soap Gallery is organizing a summer event named Soap-A-Palooza. Soap-A-Palooza will feature an array of local and national artists involved with comics, storyboarding and editorial cartoons.
In conjunction with The Soap Gallery, YSU art student Chauncey Hay will teach weekly watercolor classes. On Oct. 22 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts on Phelps Street, the Soap Gallery will host its second Soap@Suzie’s, a live painting event. Proceeds from the event will benefit the YSU student organization, YSUscape.
The Soap Gallery is located at 117 S. Champion St. in Youngstown, and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday. All information on The Soap Gallery, including upcoming events, updates and photos, can be found on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SoapGalleryYo.