For some, it’s the architecture. For others, it’s the natural beauty. And then for a select few, it’s the potato chips. One way or another, artists have been lured to the Hanover area lately, seeking inspiration and finding it in sometimes surprising ways.
When Shannon Lanier set up shop near downtown Hanover, he knew that it would be the perfect place to express himself artistically and help other artists do the same. As the owner of Dark Ronin Films, The Sound Room, and Broadway Art, he determined that Hanover needed more cultural and artistic outlets.
“We are looking to bring high quality original entertainment to the world and continue to express our artistic creativity,” he explained.
And Hanover has allowed him to do just that.
“I wanted to have a mini theater/venue space, so I thought, ‘Why not just make one?’” he said.
So, he did, and Hanover has supported his businesses. Lanier isn’t the only local artist who has found Hanover to be accommodating and full of inspiration.
Working as an engineer for the government for over 30 years, Jim Hollenbeck never thought of himself as an artist, until inspiration struck. He creates digital art, some of which his inspired by Hanover’s architecture.
“I am interested in local history. I created the poster in the Art Guild lobby that shows the history of the buildings that house the Hanover Area Arts Guild. Did you know that 32 Carlisle St. has only been owed by only 3 families and the Guild since it was originally purchased from Richard McCallister in 1777?” he marvels.
For Eric Miller, the most inspiring part of Hanover is the natural world around him.
“The subjects I enjoy most are often from nature – flora and fauna that I photograph in my backyard and in other nearby locations, then translate into paintings,” he described.
As a local artist, Miller has found a great deal of support from Hanover’s Art Guild. For over 50 years, the Hanover Area Arts Guild has served as an outlet for local artists to connect with each other and the community.
According to Sara Little, the Vice President of the Art Guild, its purpose to reach people through the arts, by offering classes, networking opportunities, and events.
“Our purpose as a non-profit is to provide networking and gallery exhibitions for artists in the Hanover Area. These exhibits offer the public a chance to view a variety of professional art work without leaving Hanover.”
Jim Hollenbeck, for one, has found these opportunities to be rewarding, as he has been able to connect with other artists.
“My contact with other artists has been through the Hanover Area Arts Guild. I am just starting my third year at the Guild, and I am just starting to get to know the other members. For a small town, I think that Hanover has some really talented artists,” he explains.
And for an artist just starting out, the Art Guild is the place to go. Just ask Harrison Jones, a junior member of the guild, whose love for photography was kindled in Hanover.
Jones started out taking pictures of the natural beauty of Hanover, and then, he began taking pictures of events around town. It was a tragedy that struck in our community, however, that ultimately led him to discover his passion for photojournalism.
“The idea of photojournalism first sprung into my mind during my junior year after a house fire that was directly behind my house, which woke my family up at 4 a.m. and brought the news directly to our back porch. While still afraid that the fire could spread to our house, I took the experience of event and sports photography and began to apply it to the chaos unfolding in front of me,” he described.
Since that fateful day, the photography major at George Washington University has landed a contract with the Evening Sun and has even had some of his images go viral.
While Hanover is where some artists start out, it is a place for others to get their start simply because the community embraces them. For Lise Miller, a local muralist, that’s one of the biggest perks of being an artist: having your work be appreciated.
“The impact art has on the community is very important for a balance and beauty as well as conversation and business opportunities for artists. Murals are a great way to help the community learn about the past century history and to have real paintings from old photos to enjoy by all who pass by,” she describes.
Miller, like many local artists, has found art to be a great way to give back to Hanover. Shannon Lanier would agree; he’s grateful for the opportunities that Hanover has given him as an artist, so he wants to use his artwork to give back to the community.
“Dark Ronin Films wants to provide an outlet to the community for the visual arts and other artist expression. All forms of art are important in the community as it allows for creativity expression whether through physical art, visual or thoughtful expression through song or word. Creativity produces new ideas and thoughts that expand our knowledge and vision,” Lanier said.
It might be the architecture, or the natural beauty, or even the snacks that are bringing them here, but artists are thriving because of the warm response of the community. And, while artists find their inspiration in Hanover, what blooms from that inspiration often inspires all who experience it.