HEALING HEARTS: New art center opens with recuperation in mind

By: 
Samantha Hill

Painting and tending to gardens may seem like everyday hobbies, but at Healing Harts in Livingston, the two owners hope these activities will also be a source of revitalization. 

Once used as a plant nursery, Healing Harts, located at 11 Rogers Lane behind Matt’s Butcher Shop & Deli, is now a combination of a large art studio and two greenhouses, both used as tools to helping others to de-stress. 

The founders of the new nonprofit arts center are Mary Haug and Bonnie Clement. Clement is a local artist who has painted and participated in other visual arts in the area for over 30 years, while next door to Healing Harts, Haug owns the Livingston Campground with her husband. Haug said she has always enjoyed collecting people’s stories and writing.

Together, the two bought the Healing Harts last August and little by little cleaned it, put up insulation and began growing vegetables and herbs in the facility’s greenhouse. They sold the produce at the Livingston Farmers Market to help fund some of the center’s new programs. 

Both Haug and Clement said they were inspired to start the facility because of the high rate of suicide in the area. They are both certified to deal with trauma and have noticed that people feel better after painting. 

“They say it is like therapy,” Clement said. “It’s more about healing without having to say anything.” 

Classes at the center began last month with watercolor, and participants have already said how it has helped with some difficult times. Those who have dealt with suicide in their families or suffer from chronic illness have found the classes to be soothing. 

Haug and Clement are now working toward more classes with clay, quilting and other art mediums as well as recruiting students for some after-school programs with the greenhouse. 

“They learn a lot growing the plants from start to finish,” Haug said. 

Schedules and classes can be found on Facebook under Healing Harts with Art. The center also plans on creating a website.

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Samantha Hill may be reached at shill@livent.net.