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By Lissa Guyton | 


One of the biggest shopping days of the year is just hours away, and there’s a special store that you may want to put on your list of places to stop.

Shared Lives is a visual arts studio and gallery in downtown Toledo operated by Lott Industries. During the holidays they expand the operation, and open a pop-up shop of sorts at Levis Commons. It offers some spectacular art created by some truly remarkable people.

The Shared Lives studio at Levis Commons is full of beautiful artwork.
The artists make everything from paintings to holiday cards and ornaments to cut-out Christmas trees. Theresa Athaide-Victor has worked at the studio for the last nine years, “We employ 19 artists from the ages of 21-67. It is a very energetic, dynamic kind of place. We create art, we promote art and we sell it for our artists who have developmental disabilities.”

Andrea Christen has been an artist at Shared Lives for the last two years, “it’s a nice place where we can do painting, sewing and learn different things. My favorite piece was a snowman.”

 Another artist is Craig Toczynski, “I love to paint, you do it very well. Yeah and I have a lot of fun. I like to help inspire other people.” Craig used his paint brushes to bring a very famous Christmas song to life, “I did the 12 days of Christmas, and a lot of them are sold already.”

Kelley Brown also just sold one her her cut-out Christmas trees, “It’s beautiful. I painted orange, blue, yellow, purple,pink and red. It’s already sold? Yay!”

What happens here is about so much more than artwork. Theresa says the artists form friendships with one another and their customers, “I just love what I do. I love the people I work with and seeing them grow,”

And a lot of people in the community help make all this possible.
Many of the materials used by the artists are donated. Slate from the roof of a house in the Toledo neighborhood of Westmoreland has been used for holidays paintings. A lot of fused glass was donated to the studio as well and used to make ornaments, “We re-use and recycle a lot. We are a non-profit, so our budget is minimal and we work to be creative with what we are given. We are so appreciative of all the things people give us.”

 Sales are going well. In fact, Theresa says a lot of people are repeat customers, “We have artists who have a regular following. Customers will come in and say what has Craig painted lately, or they want a commission work done because they follow that artist and really like their work.”

The Shared Lives Studio at Levis Commons is open Monday-Friday from 4:30-9pm, Saturday from 10-9pm and Sunday from noon-6pm through December 31st.

We’ve posted a link with all the information about the Levis and downtown stores.