Joanna Tebbs Young
CIRCLES OF COMMUNITY
Two years ago, Manhattan resident and creative community-builder Stacy Harshman Googled the terms: depressed, therapy, work, community, mountains. From the results, it was Spring Lake Ranch (SLR) in Cuttingsville that caught her eye. A multi-talented artist, writer and musician who has struggled with bi-polar disorder, Stacy said her time at SLR has made her, “a much happier version” of herself.
“One of my greatest learnings is about being resilient,” Stacy said. “I’ve struggled with bi-polar disorder for most of my adult life. This has knocked me around and off my dearest wishes and plans many times, yet somehow, with the great help of my family and friends, I have gotten back up, picked up the pieces and patched them back together. I think, and hope, that my creativity is a more colorful patchwork as a result of overcoming these challenges.
“I am proud of the creative community I built in Manhattan,” Stacy continued. “I wanted to create a space for people to share that was warm and welcoming and free for everyone, and that celebrated all kinds of expression.” And she did.
At her “Sunday Salons,” Stacy hosted comedians, singers, dancers, magicians, tai chi masters, poets, glass artists, composers and actors in her home in the East Village. “The joy they brought everyone who participated was spine tingling. We created something very special. I hope to re-create that specialness and community here, Vermont-style.”
How Stacy plans to do that is through her brand-new adventure: The Sparkle Barn, in Wallingford.
After her time at SLR, taken by the beauty of the area, Stacy moved to Rutland and took a part-time job at Pierce’s Store in Shrewsbury. Here she found a striking contrast to Manhattan, where “the art scene, along with everything else, is so competitive and so, ‘who you know.’” In Vermont, she felt welcomed and part of the community. “I knew I was done with the fast-paced and sometimes unwelcoming vibe of Manhattan,” Stacy said, “Rutland, and Vermont, were much nicer.”
Holding onto a vision of one day owning a store with beautiful, handmade objects from around the world, Stacy found that her success at selling via Facebook the paintings she was creating in her apartment in Rutland, was the encouragement she needed. “It re-ignited my dream. This time around though, the dream could include my own art.”
And when she found a property beside Route 7 in Wallingford with a barn which used to be an antique store, she knew she had found her spot.
Stacy explained that owning such a store is in her blood. “My Grandparents owned an antique store, so I grew up around unique pieces that had stories. I’m passionate about beauty, and the history and stories that go along with the physical manifestation of it. I’m also passionate and fascinated by artists’ unending creativity and talents. I also love finding beauty. I call myself a beauty-collector.”
The Sparkle Barn, which will have its grand opening this weekend, July 1 and 2, offers unique, handmade art and artisan creations from Vermont and all over the world, for which Stacy’s selection criteria has been simple: Is it handmade? Does it delight? In the future, the upstairs of the barn will be used for classes, workshops and events such as music, art shows and movie nights. For the opening weekend, there will be 25-percent-off barn-wide, two drawings for $50 gift certificates and refreshments.
“I feel art can be about the appreciation and celebration of creativity and supporting independent artists,” Stacy explained. “My goal is to create community through art, especially through the classes and events we will host in the future. I feel the Sparkle Barn is a place where community can gather and grow.”
IF YOU GO:
Grand Opening of The Sparkle Barn
July 1 and 2
1509 US 7 S
Wallingford, VT 05573
Hours are Tuesday – Sunday,
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.