Cleveland Artist Building Art Studio on Historic Rimersburg Area Property ::


MADISON TWP., Pennsylvania (EYT) – Kim Bissett’s entire artistic career, both as a studio artist and teacher, has been anchored in Cleveland; However, when she retired in 2017, she began planning a new studio in a location special to her – Madison Township near Rimersburg – next to a stone house built in 1844.

The Clarion County Planning Commission recently gave preliminary approval for the construction of a new 1,197 square foot commercial building that will house an art studio, a new 1,320 square foot gravel driveway, and parking and a sidewalk of 752 square feet.

“I taught sculpture, bronze casting and drawing for 22 years at the Cleveland Institute of Art, drawing at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland for seven years, and before that I taught art in high school for 15 years, ”Bissett said.

She explained that her teaching was a unique type where you have to push the students, and they come into a life in the arts.

“I would like to end my life as a studio teacher in something more relaxed, more inclusive, less study-oriented and more focused on individual satisfaction.

“I still had the verve to start a new chapter.”

Why the Township of Madison?

As to why she chose Madison Township, a bit of history is in order.

“My father’s family is from Greene County, on the Mason-Dixon line,” Bissett said. “My father, Leon Bissett, grew up on the family farm and, like so many families in the late 1930s, the family had to sell the farm. There was simply no way to make a living. My father’s parents came to Ohio so the boys could work in the steel mills in Alliance, Ohio, but my father never lost his roots in Pennsylvania.

“He became an artist and was Creative Director of American Greetings in Cleveland. His love was animal painting, and many subjects were taken from his childhood – and to get right to the point, when he retired, his passion has become the renovation of old houses. “

“He was here in Pennsylvania to visit his sister who lived south of East Brady in 1998. A cousin of mine told him there was this stone house that was empty and was on the market. . My father came to see her and bought the house – built in 1844 – the day he saw it. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1999, ”Bissett continued.

“I didn’t grow up with my dad, and he left me this place on nine acres along Rimersburg Rod and Gun Club Road, and it was a total surprise. Because it was my father’s house, even though I lived in Cleveland and worked in Cleveland, I couldn’t sell it because it was my father’s gift to me.

“Even though I had a very good childhood, there was this void in my life and I never wanted to change my name… I kept my maiden name.


Stone house from 1844

“Walking on this property was a way to get to know my dad more deeply than I ever did in life,” said Bissett.

Holding back tears, she said, “It has been a very, very deep journey for me with the transition from city life transition to Rimersburg. Over time, I feel at home, not superficially, but almost like a generational memory. “

“Dad lived here for a year, and although he didn’t die at home, he died while he was working. The building is a work in progress, and it is an incredible building. It’s rough around the edges, and it was just a joy and an honor to be able to live here and feel the history at your fingertips. I don’t know what it’s like in western Pennsylvania, but my God, you just feel the layers of generations and layers of history here. “

Workshop planning

“I spent a few years planning this studio space,” Bissett said. “My architect’s name from Cleveland is Mark Kearney. We started with Mark who came to my studio in Cleveland and then made many trips to Pennsylvania. We wanted to create something that was creative space that was welcoming, something unusual, verbal, but that didn’t feel too out of step with the landscape.


Foundation of the barn for the new studio

“The new studio is built on the old barn foundation that accompanied the house,” Bissett said. “The barn burned down about 50 years ago, but the remains of the foundation are there. The plan is to eventually have a sculpture garden in the barn foundation, and the studio will be behind that. I’m trying to start this business rather modestly, mainly giving sculpture and drawing lessons.

“The dream was also to lead intensive workshops. My idea for this is two to three day workshops several times during the summer, welcoming and hopefully bringing in people from out of state to stay here for several days and really be able to have a great experience. full immersion in sculpture, plaster, molding, clay modeling, and that sort of thing.

“I enjoyed teaching, but it’s good to get out of the mad rush, and I think others will appreciate that. I will work in solitude. And, now that I’m 70, this creation of something meaningful is so important to me and something generative. I need to do something that is bigger than me and greater than the scope of my own personal satisfaction. I want to contribute. I want to leave something meaningful. It has a lot of threads for me.


Orange Dog Studio

The studio’s name came from discussions with her friend Tammi McGreevey.

“I have a sheepdog named Bradshaw who is the light of my life, and he wears an orange hunting vest.”

Bissett added, “I’m right next to the Rod and Gun Club.”


Discussions with Tammi over the past few years have generated some ideas.

“The idea is for Tammi to take over ‘the hospitality room’, which means my dream is to have a full studio for people with meals and a place to relax and really allow for individual personal expression. in the arts, ”Bissett explained.

“Accommodation has not yet been determined, but there are options here. There is a bed and breakfast at a historic property down the street, and I can accommodate a small number of people, but at this point we don’t know. It’s the dream on the road, and I’m not talking about a ton of people. My ideal would be four to six people for something like that, so it would be very personal and very focused on what people would like to get out of it. “

Are you going to have attractive classes for novices?

“This is one of the things that really interested me,” Bissett said. “My professional and artistic life has been spent mainly in Cleveland. I know him inside and out, and when I started spending time here one of the things that I loved was that for me the culture is very different.

“There is an incredible artisan tradition here. For example, I have a neighbor who would never brag about it, with a very soft voice, who is a suburban steelworker and cutler. I have friends here who make quilts. I have friends who are interested in photography here, and a mix of backgrounds. This is what interests me.

“I look forward to having a welcoming environment and classes for people who have ‘absolutely no experience’,” said Bissett.

“Although people have this past, sometimes they don’t realize it. We watch, feel and experience every day. I think somewhere along the line people started to think that drawing is about photographic reproduction, or sculpture is about photographic reproduction. It’s much wider than that, and I’m very interested in digging into it and seeing where we can go with that.

“I had my life in academia. I had a life with motivated and highly motivated students. I’m looking for something else that is more holistic that goes through the ages, that goes through lived experiences, that is going to be rewarding.

“I’m going to start off slow and run a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, to see what happens and to find out how I can build slowly.”

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