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Our featured artist for August is Don Petz. Here is the artist’s story in his own words:
My name’s Don Petz and I’ve been coming to Heartside for a month now. I bring my crochet supplies here and do my work almost every day of the week. I was kind of self-taught with crocheting; I saw somebody doing it and I thought it would be interesting, so I tried it out; then I just figured I’d keep doing it. I also make latch hook rugs – they make a sort of canvas with little squares that you can put yarn in, but you need a latch hook. I’d been making those since I was about fifteen. It was fun to start off back then when I was so young. I don’t think of this as a boy or girls thing, I think of it as art.
I was born in Grand Rapids, and I used to work at one of the YMCAs as a janitor. My jobs were to clean mirrors and stuff, vacuum the floors, drink a lot of pop because they had a pop machine in the hallway. I got laid off about three years ago, so I make more art now.
My mother encourages me; she used to teach crafts in junior high school at North East Junior High, which is the City School or something like that now. She was a home economics teacher, so I got some of my stitches and stuff from her. She doesn’t make art anymore but she teaches me because I ask her. She taught me to make a Granny Square, I picked that up in about five minutes. I also make key rings and key-chains, and I’m working on a Granny Square blanket currently. I have rugs, scarves, coasters, bookmarks I’ve made at home, and I’m not sure what else I’ve done, but I have a website I post things on.
I get my ideas out of a book, I get my books at Michaels, or through the mail. At home in my spare time I also make time to make art. Instead of watching the TV I make art, and only look up every once in a while. Just a day or two ago I was telling my mom I was thinking of giving up on art. She told me, “don’t.” If you’ve found something that makes you happy, don’t give it up. If you can’t do it right, keep doing it, keep trying.
I help out down in Fiber Arts (at Heartside) on Wednesdays; I just started volunteering. I help out the other volunteers and if people ask me how to do something and I know how to do it, I’ll teach them, they just have to ask. About a year ago I was teaching a class in crocheting, at Alternative Pathways. I only had two people to teach, but I was still teaching them the best I could. If people come to Heartside and bring your own yarn and hooks, I can teach them. If they make an effort and study how to do things, I’m more than willing to help out, but they’ve got to put the effort in and be serious. You have to be serious, because otherwise what good is it?
I started the website because I wanted to let people know what I make and what prices I sell things for, so they could get interested in my work. I guess I also made it to let people know that a man was doing this stuff. I had a woman at Hope Network say to me once, “I never saw a man crochet.” She was impressed. I’ve had people say “we should have more men crocheters.”
Women or men can do it, and that way more people get to make art.
To see more of Don's work, visit and ‘like’ his facebook page here.
The Artists of Heartside Gallery and Studio is a monthly feature to highlight some of the wonderful people of the Heartside neighborhood. Visit www.heartside.org , Facebook and our Flickr page to keep up with us, to learn about volunteering and other ways to get involved.
Sarah Scott is Arts Coordinator for Heartside Gallery and Studio at Heartside Ministry, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heartside Gallery and Studio began in 1993 as a small program of Heartside Ministry. This ever-expanding program continues to offer the Heartside community and its neighbors a supportive and safe environment in which to create, exhibit and sell work.