By Elise Franco
B&O Station showcases Artists of the Rust Belt
The sights and sounds of Rust Belt artists filled Youngstown’s historic B&O Station on Sunday.
About 100 people filled the banquet hall early in the afternoon to check out more than 15 original exhibits, while enjoying food and locally brewed beer.
The art exhibition, called Artists of the Rust Belt, was organized by Daniel Horne and showcased the work of 17 artists from the Mahoning Valley as well as Canton and Dover.
“The turnout was much larger than expected,” he said. “This is our first show, and it’s fabulous. People are here, and they’re buying things.”
Horne, who crafts the tap handles for the Rust Belt Brewing Co., said he and the brewery’s owner Ken Blair sat down together and came up with the concept. The B&O Station is the home of the Rust Belt Brewing Co.
Horne said the idea was to bring hometown artists and art lovers to the B&O Station.
“It’s such a beautiful building, but it’s a shame that it’s been sitting here so long virtually unused,” he said. “We’re going to do a show like this once every three months, and we want to do other smaller things here every Sunday to draw people to downtown.”
Kyle Valentini of Dover said she’s known Horne for years and jumped at the chance to be a part of Sunday’s showcase.
Valentini makes what she calls mixed media boxes — photos, words or pictures placed in the front square of a hand-crafted wooden box, and lighted from the inside.
“I love this building and the history of it,” she said. “I curate shows a lot like this in my neck of the woods.”
Valentini said she began making the boxes about six years ago, but has considered herself an artist for close to 40 years, since she was a toddler.
“I like nostalgia, and each of these boxes has some history or meaning,” she said. “They’re all of people I know or photos I’ve been looking at since I was a child.”
Valentini said an hour into the exhibition she’d already sold four pieces for $25 each.
“I know a lot of people can’t afford art; it’s kind of a commodity,” she said. “It doesn’t take me much to create them since I use all salvaged material, so I like to keep my prices low.”
Lisa Zitello of Austintown said the inspiration for her paintings comes from within the human body.
Zitello, who attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, said she combines on canvas the realness of human veins and cells with color and beauty.
“I paint pretty pictures of gruesome things to try and get a balance between the two,” she said.
Zitello said she thinks artist showcases are important, especially in the Youngstown area because it’s not something commonly seen or talked about.
“People need to see art and talk about art and learn about art,” she said. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever done, and it’s important to get feedback.”
Zitello said she helped Horne organize the event, and plans to return for the next exhibition in June.
“This brewery is the perfect setting. It’s fantastic,” she said. “We’re talking about having the next one outside, kind of like an open market.”
Art lover Pat Diamond of Youngstown said she frequents local exhibitions such as this one.
“It’s important to know and enjoy the arts,” she said. “I live here, and there are so many talented people here.”
Diamond said she doesn’t know a lot about art, but that doesn’t stunt her appreciation of it.
“Supporting the arts is cool,” she said. “And it’s so much fun.”
Horne said the exhibition’s theme will always be “Artists of the Rust Belt” and will have a core group of seven or eight artists who will return for each event.
“We do want to change it up a little bit each time though,” he said. “There’s been an increase in people who want to do it.”