Awards & Events

Smarts Celebrates Window Displays and the Holidays

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Smarts Community Arts School celebrated the holiday season Tuesday by showcasing recently completed window displays at the Ohio One Building downtown.

Each of the spaces highlights one of the five art forms – visual arts, music, dance, theater and creative writing – that Smarts, short for Students Motivated by the Arts, offers. The displays were designed by Dave Ragan, creative director for the project and former creative director at FCB Health in Manhattan. He was on hand Tuesday for Smarts’ holiday open house.

The design, which incorporates star-shaped photographs of Smarts students and the Smarts logo rendered in the organization’s orange and white color scheme, was among a few options Ragan presented to Smarts Executive Director Becky Keck. That criteria included establishing the branding for Smarts in the space it opened in June on the ground floor of the Ohio One Building downtown.

They “landed almost immediately” on the stars theme, he said.

“It was a natural fit to utilize the symbolism of the star to really make a statement about all the students that come here,” he said. “Each and every single one of them has the potential and the potential and the power to be their own creative star, so we created a very simple design that used just a very limited color palate but would really pop along the storefront.”

The panels in the windows “really create the keystone effect that is integral” to the Smarts logo, Ragan said.

“We’re really excited to anchor this building” and the window displays change its look, Keck said. “It’s an absolutely beautiful building downtown and the fact that we were able to, with Dave Ragan’s help, feature Smarts students, we’re really fortunate.”

Ragan and others who worked on the displays donated their time, Keck said. At about $3,000, the cost of the displays is about a quarter of what it would have been otherwise, she said.

Tuesday’s holiday open house featured live music, arts and crafts projects, and sales of jewelry and art to help support arts programs.

Laura and Ben Dewberry make wreaths at the Smarts holiday open house.

Among the items for sale was a penguin-themed holiday card designed by Olivia Vinion of Youngstown, as part of an extra class she took at Smarts. Vinion, a student at the Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley, takes piano classes at Smarts.

“I love the teacher. I like all the people that are in the class with me,” she remarked.

“We wanted to try piano with her but we weren’t sure if she would want to do it or not, and [Smarts] was a gateway to check that out,” her mother, Christine Vinion, said. “That they’re offering it free is amazing, especially for everything she’s gotten out of it.”

The school provides an artistic outlet for children who might not otherwise have one without paying “astronomical prices for private lessons,” she said.

Laura Dewberry, a Smarts board member, and her son, Ben, worked on holiday wreaths. Ben Dewberry also participates in an architecture class there.

“We’re so fortunate to have a community arts school here in the Mahoning Valley,” offering programming in “this beautiful space” as well as in local schools, Laura Dewberry said.

The open house was a way for the community arts school to reach out to the community, highlight its programming and celebrate the holidays, Keck said.

The plan is to update the window displays once a year, timed to coincide with the annual Art for Smarts benefit, Keck and Ragan said.

Keck also noted that various naming opportunities within Smarts remain available, including for its Ohio One space. Naming rights for the Ohio One space are $500,000, she said.

Pictured: Smarts program manager Coraline Lorimer, Smarts Executive Director Becky Keck and artist Dave Ragan unveiled the new window displays Tuesday.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.