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‘Arting’ Is a Verb for Sturgeon Bay artist Claudia Scimeca

Considering her 30-year career as a dentist and a few years of retirement, Claudia Scimeca arrived at her career as an artist rather suddenly.

“I never thought of myself as an artist until I did,” she said, somewhat cryptically. “It wasn’t until a number of years ago, after I had retired, that I started playing with art and found this passion inside of me, and now I can’t get enough. It has been a wonderful experience.”

It shouldn’t have come as a total surprise, however. Scimeca said she was raised in a very artistic family, and her father, also a dentist, did everything from oil painting to cartoon caricatures to stained glass.

“I think that explains why I like dabbling in so many different types of art,” she said, “although it all ends up being abstract.”

Her brother, a physician, likes turning wood and makes beautiful bowls, and a niece in California is also an artist.

“We thought we should do something sustainable and practical, but all of our hearts lay in the arts,” she said.

“Floating” 16”X16” gallery wrapped canvas. Ink & acrylic.

Scimica is a partner with Mike and Laura Caplan in ARTicipation, a studio and gallery on Oak and Madison streets on Sturgeon Bay’s west side. Her studio – with a huge table that contains all of her art supplies “for every type of crazy art I am doing” – occupies a corner of the room.

Every work is an original, and although she said she does work in series, the images on her website are notable for how much they differ. One sculptural work is mixed media in acrylic, cement, found objects and gilders wax. The cement is spackle, which you can get from a hardware store. She also likes working with crackle paste.

“The thicker you put it on, the more defined the cracks are,” she said. “You can mix it with paint, but I like putting on white and painting it afterward.” 

Scimeca said her other favorite is a heavy molding glue that can be shaped a little.

Besides creating, she said she enjoys interacting with customers, whether they buy or not.

“Of course I like selling myself, and that’s the purpose of having a gallery,” she said. “But galleries are places for people to stroll, to look, to think about what they want in their home. The purchases come occasionally, and that’s wonderful, but a lot of times it is talking to clients and getting to know them, and when they express excitement, it is almost as good as getting paid. It gives you a positive feedback loop that makes you want to keep creating because the work brings happiness to myself and to others.”

“Rodeo” 16”X16” birch wood. Mixed media including texture mediums, found objects, papers, acrylics and ink.

Scimeca was showing her work at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor for two years before COVID-19, then hunkered down during the pandemic to create. The storefront on the corner went up for rent. Laura and Mike Caplan, who had a small display space at the Lawlss coffee shop in Sturgeon Bay, decided to take the storefront and asked Scimeca – a friend from their lives in Chicago – to join them. The joint effort will celebrate its first anniversary on Memorial Day.

Working in the gallery/studio, Scimeca has learned a lot about the ebb and flow of business in Door County.

“Next Christmas, I will be prepared with smaller things,” she said. “The Sturgeon Bay Art Crawl was a wonderful experience, and now that I have experienced it, I know what to expect.”

She’d like to see a couple of art crawls because she’s noticed how much they draw people to walk through the galleries. She can also see that slow winter months are a time to paint and to bolster her online presence. 

Scimeca also plans to do some workshops such as Mark Making and Merlot or Alcohol Ink. For her usual fee of $50, she supplies materials and beverages, and no experience is needed. Her emphasis is less technical and more inspirational, teaching people to free their brains.

For Scimeca, “arting” is a verb (my dictionary missed it somehow), and she invites Peninsula Pulse readers to join her.

“If people are interested in my art, my arting experiences at my magical studio table, or commission work, they can contact me at [email protected] and/or follow me on Instagram and Facebook @claudiascimecaart,” she said. “I love arting with others.”

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