A Grafton couple, Tom and Donna Hart, are following the dream and motto of the late Larry “Butchie” Bartosh and working to make that dream a reality for the Grafton and Taylor County area. Larry Bartosh had a vision for a Main Street location where everyone could come and learn a variety of art forms from painting and sewing to theatre and yoga.
After Larry’s passing in 2016, Tom and Donna Hart acquired the Main Street location from Larry’s wife Bette. The Hart’s knew without a doubt that bringing the dream of an artist association to life was their main goal and focus and quickly started to brainstorm.
In 1773, William Robinson claimed over 400 acres of land in what was then called Buffalo Flats. Larry knew of the historical information, which many others did not, and always referred to the Main Street location as Buffalo Flats. So the couple knew immediately that the only proper name for this venture would be “Buffalo Flats Artist Association.” Once the couple had gathered a group of dedicated community members to join them in their efforts, they all shot off into action.
A group of WVU Reed College of Media students were assigned to help brand Buffalo Flats. They enjoyed visiting Grafton and learning more about the community as a whole and what the Artist Association was planning. They developed a logo in which the community was able to vote on during Grafton’s first Earth Day Celebration in April. Once Tom began working on the cosmetic upgrades to the building, the students were enthusiastic to come and lend a hand.
The Association houses a group of locals who call themselves “Stitchers with a Purpose.” They get together the first Thursday of every month to crochet, knit, quilt, and sew comfort blankets for Hospice patients. There is a range of skill levels from seasoned to beginners where everyone teaches each other.
Buffalo Flats Artist Association will also be the lead organization for Grafton’s second annual ArtStock event where local and area artists come to set up and display and sell their art in a peaceful and loving country setting. The event will be held Saturday, September 9, 10 am – 6 pm, with a band to follow at 7 pm. Potential vendors are encouraged to contact Donna Hart or Breanna Collins for details by August 15. Buffalo Flats will also house yoga classes and much more.
The Association plans to grow continuously and offer new things on a regular basis. They are always in search of new teachers and instructors and those wishing to learn new forms of art to become members and help support their mission. Larry’s art and way of life was to inspire others to be creative and make the world a better place, and this local group has taken the phrase, “Be kind, be generous, make the world a better place,” to heart and hope to make a difference in their own community with art and creativity.