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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Visionaries + Voices Expands in an Exciting Direction with Oakley’s Visionarium

By Grace DeGregorio

Established in 2003, the nonprofit Visionaries+Voices provides exhibition opportunities, studio space, supplies and support to more than 120 visual artists with disabilities. With a stated mission to be “an inclusive arts organization to provide creative, professional and educational opportunities,” according to its website “V+V artists actively contribute to the greater arts community through creative, educational and strategic partnerships with local and regional artists, schools and business  leaders.”
With studios in Northside and Tri-County, V+V has opened its first progressive learning studio and retail shop - Visionarium - in Oakley Square.  It is a place “where patrons of all ages can come to develop their creative voice through artist-led workshops and events.”    

While V+V primarily focuses its programming for people with developmental disabilities, “Visionarium is open for everyone - not just for people with disabilities,” emphasizes Manager Julia Lipovsky, who has been with V+V for 15 years.

“I worked for a printmaker at the Essex Studios [V+V’s first home] and was going into my junior year of college,” she recalls.  “I created a project for V+V and fell in love with and wanted to be a part of it.  I loved the energy of the studio.  I volunteered as a mentor, then was hired as a Studio Coordinator.”  Now as Visionarium’s manager, Julia oversees all programming, schedules classes and heads the retail area.  

Director Julie Lipovsky 
With over 2,500 square feet and an open, bright, airy space, Visionarium is decorated with artwork from the V+V studios.  The impressive retail area is filled with art and handmade merchandise for purchase created by the V+V studios and local artists.  

“Our location in Oakley is incredible, and it’s important for me not to just move in here but to build relationships with our neighbors and to become an Oakley ‘fixture.’  It’s a place for classes, events and retail - artists from the community can sell at Visionarium, with 50% of the proceeds going to V+V.”

The spacious, well-lit class/event area is perfect for everyone. 
From functional ceramic candleholders and original design wrapping paper to whimsical jewelry and decorative pieces; from T-shirts, tote bags and mugs to a most entrancing “sky dancer” suspended from the ceiling, patrons of the retail shop are sure to find something appealing for themselves or as a one-of-a-kind gift. 

At Visionarium, “Anyone can come and take classes,” says Julia. They currently include the Pop Pop Parent-Child Program (starting with a theme-appropriate story and snack, activities range from drawing and painting to sculpture and performance) offered twice a week; Room on the Moon: Weekly All Ages Arts program (great for after school or unwinding after work - learn from working artists teaching everything from drawing and painting to sculpture, fiber art and ceramics); The Greenhouse:  Portfolio Preparation (offered Saturdays with challenging areas such as printmaking, book binding, batik, ceramics, cyanotype and other non-traditional methods to expand your portfolio and skillset); Yoga for Every Body (last Saturday of each month for everyone - perfect if you have mobility issues or just want some ways to relax at the office).  Each month other classes and programs - such as  a Pot and Plant Sale in April and Ladies Night in May -  are scheduled. Visit for up-to-date details.

The retail area offers an array of creative and unique art, crafts, jewelry, clothing and other clever items.
In addition, Visionarium is a perfect location for your customized events - birthday parties, showers, reunions, class trips, team building or other gathering. There is free parking in a lot adjacent to the building.

Among the teachers at Visionarium are graduates of the innovative 30-week V+V Teaching Artist Program (TAP), which provides opportunities for artists in teaching, speaking and public leadership positions in the field of visual art.  V+V is believed to be the only organization in the country to offer this program.

Meet the Sky Dancer, created by Emily Funk! 
“V+V artists are paired with a mentor,” explains Julia, “and study all aspects of teaching - speaking, lesson development, etc.”  TAP graduates work in schools, the art museum, the Children’s Home, at team building events with businesses such as Procter & Gamble, etc.”...and now, at Visionarium.
“Our programs are more inclusive than ever,” says Julia, “with people with and without disabilities participating.  Our space can continue connections for the teaching artists and those they’ve worked with.  It sets the artists up for success, as they have a familiar home turf where people come to them for instruction.”

For all participants, Julia smiles, “Visionarium is a place where people can hang out, feel comfortable and get creative!”

On the walls are pieces of artwork by V+V artists.
V+V’s Visionarium is at 3054 Madison Road (former Blue Manatee location).  Hours are Tuesday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays. For more information, call 513-417-8491; for the monthly class schedule and to register for classes please visit

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