ArtZebo creates eco-smart art

By Sarah Simkin

ArtZebo Creations

26 Southern Avenue, Mt…. ArtZebo Creations

26 Southern Avenue, Mt. Washington

M, Tu, Th: 10-6; W-F: 12-8 p.m.

Community interaction, recycling, local artists and even delightful aromas: Desiree Reicosky’s new Mt. Washington art store ArtZebo is a blend of all those things.

Reicosky’s store, which opened early last month, offers a variety of goods including from handcrafted jewelry, mixed media art, and her own aromatherapy candles.

To encourage interaction between local artists and the community, Reicosky created an artists’ table at the front of her store with sketchbooks and art supplies. The artists whose work is sold in her shop often come in to work there, and anyone is welcome to sit and draw or paint — Reicosky even hangs some of her customers’ work in the window.

“I try to make it so that when an artist is in here doing something, anyone who comes in can see them and ask questions, which gives them a feel for what goes into making the products that are sold here. It makes us a little bit different than other shops,” Reicosky said.

Reicosky said she hopes to one day open a community art center to further support these interactions and considers the artist table the first step in that endeavor.

“I think that if I really want to be involved with the community I have to start as soon as possible. A lot of these artists are hidden in the woodwork, and I want people to know that they are here,” she said.

Many artists became involved with ArtZebo through the Satuday art marketplace held during the summer in Mt. Washington, but Reicosky had to be more creative to reach out to others.

“I went to buildings where I had seen people painting outside and asked if they’d like to participate. There are places in my neighborhood where there’s paint on the sidewalk and you know someone has been working on their art there, so I would put fliers in their mailboxes. I got quite a few people involved that way,” she said.

Some local artists currently involved with ArtZebo include mixed media painter Scott Saloney, photographer and poet Jason Greiner and Original Glass Worx. Others create pottery or handmade jewelry.

Reicosky crafts soy candles with aromatherapeutic essences as well as all-natural soaps, bubble baths and sprays. She said that she began working with essential oils after witnessing how they were able to help her daughter who suffers from allergies and asthma.

“I worked on incorporating essential oils into candles as naturally as possible, with soy and cotton wicks, so people with allergies like my daughter can use them,” she said.

Reicosky comes in to her store early to work on her candles and custom orders but said that she also likes to make small batches of candles throughout the day because their aroma carries outside. “People say they make the whole block smell good!” she said. She works on a variety of fragrances and can also make custom blends upon request.

While searching for a supply warehouse that offered the quality of materials she needed, Reicosky found a supplier that also offered the kind of donation opportunity she’d sought to build into her business plan. When she donates 5 percent of her supply cost to the Life Center for Autism Foundation, the warehouse matches her donation.

“I have two cousins who are autistic, so that cause has always been important to me. I wanted to give back and this gave me the opportunity to. It’s just a blessing,” she said.

ArtZebo gives back to the environment as well, as a member of team EcoEtsy,— an organization on the online art website where Reicosky also sells her wares. To be a member, a minimum of 75 percent of all materials she uses must be either sustainable, recycled or reclaimed.

Reicosky’s candles and bath products come in glass or metal containers that can be recycled or refilled instead of thrown away. All the furniture in her brick-and-mortar store is reclaimed as well, including furnishings such as old closet doors refurbished into display shelves.

“We didn’t buy anything for the store and I’m proud of that. Everything is reclaimed,” she said.

Reicosky plans on holding events at ArtZebo such as an after-hours wine and cheese night on Sept. 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. introducing her new fall scent collection of candles. It is also a community event raising awareness and possibly funds for the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis, featuring oil-disaster-themed work by local artists.

“I want to bring awareness to art and to clean up our community and some of the unpleasant things that go on around here,” Reicosky said. “You don’t need to have all the means in the world to make a difference. We’re broke, but we’re making a difference.”