Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

February 14, 2012

StangARTS

Effingham native shares energy, creative passion at new gallery

EFFINGHAM — For being less than 30 years old, Effingham native Jamie Stang has lived an exciting life.

    She’s been a patient care technician at a hospital, managed a Coyote Ugly Saloon, worked as a lifeguard, managed a music festival, won two fitness competitions and experienced the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, all while living in Panama City, Fla.

    Not only that, art runs through her blood, as she’s worked as a New Orleans street artist and opened two art galleries.

    “I think I saw enough negativity in the world throughout my past years. I just want to contribute to people’s lives and opportunities,” the 29-year-old said about her artistic passion.

    Stang is bringing her culture-infused positive energy back to her hometown, where she opened StangARTs on West Washington Avenue in December.

    But the trek back home came as an accident, just like her move to Panama City approximately 10 years ago.

    As an Effingham High School senior in 2001, she and her friends took the wild ride to the city with white sand and emerald water for a week during spring break. Stang fell in love with the atmosphere, the people and especially the beach, and six months later, she packed her bags and left her hometown.

    “We had the time of our lives. And I saw there was opportunity,” Stang said, and didn’t look back as she moved forward in cultivating her creativity and absorbing herself in art.

    Her first job in the Sunshine State was as a patient care technician at a hospital and lifeguarding part-time. Five years later she became a bartender and then managed the famous Coyote Ugly Saloon at the spring break capital.

    Known as the ultimate artist and musician hotspot, she made the trip back and forth to New Orleans to work as a street artist in the French Quarter on Jackson Square. Called “The Fence,” the street was lined at 4 a.m. with artists waiting for a spot to display their work and, hopefully, sell a piece or two, Stang said. The street was packed until 8 p.m.

    “The artists down there, that’s their life. It’s like a college, they’re full of information. It was the best. It was full of culture and it made me a more rounded person,” Stang said. “Some of them had been painting there for 60 years. They kind of had to grandfather you in.”

    In addition, Stang managed the annual BamaJam Music Festival for two years, a music event similar to Bonnaroo, which is known as a modern-day Woodstock. She hired college students searching for cash as bartenders and barbacks, and was part of a festival that featured acts such as Kid Rock, Taylor Swift, Citizen Cope, Train and Brooks & Dunn.

    Not only could Stang be considered a nurse, bartender, lifeguard, artist and music festival manager, but she was also named second in the state of Florida for overall figure and named Miss Panama City for figure and fitness.

    “One day I just woke up and started working out,” Stang said, adding she had no intention of being an example of fitness and beauty. “But I never did it again. I have to give it up to the pros because their bodies had to adjust to it, but it’s worth it. It shows willpower, self-dedication. I did it to see if I had all those qualities.”

    She went on to earn her sports nutrition license and become a trainer.

    Throughout all of her adventures and accomplishments, Stang stayed true to her real passion of creating beauty from scratch. In 2009, her contacts came together and she was able to open her first gallery full-time, called The Warehouse, located right on the beach.

    She taught children’s art classes and encouraged adults to try their hand at creativity. Stang hung their art in her gallery proudly as if it were her own.  k

    “I realized I could start something on my own to contribute and have a positive impact on people’s lives,” Stang said, who knew at a young age her imagination was her channel to success.

    Her grandpa was her first art teacher, being her mentor and passing down his craft to her, even though she was only a child.

    “He was the best artist in our whole entire family. He was the first person to put a pencil in my hand to draw,” Stang said, who uses several mediums in her trade, from painting to drawing and sewing, including portraits and abstract pieces. “It’s all original. I’m not duplicating someone else’s work.”

    Living in Panama City and working as an artist seemed like it would last forever, but the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit in April 2010, devastating the area and forcing her gallery to close.

    “It wasn’t bad until June. It was a domino effect. Businesses started closing and the need for artwork was low on the totem pole. People couldn’t afford classes anymore,” Stang said, and The Warehouse closed its doors in August 2010. “Art’s kind of last. People forget about art all the time.”

    But coming back where her roots were planted didn’t depress Stang.

    “So I was forced to move home. But I ran around for 10 years,” she said, and made the move back to Effingham in October 2010. “I was just living life. But I had an opportunity to come home and the timing was right.”

    She’s been teaching art classes in Effingham since July 2011 above the American Legion, and when the opportunity arose to rent space on the ground level a few doors down, Stang took it.

    “I think I’ve gotten to encounter so many things and I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities. I just realized anything is possible,” she said, and strictly believes in a peaceful aura inside her business. “I really believe you are your thoughts. I believe in a positive atmosphere for artists and musicians and to help other businesses in the community. I’m not here to compete with anyone.”

    Staying true to her ability to teach the passion of composing elegance, Stang thinks anyone can build a piece.

    “Art or creativity, whether it’s painting (a canvas) or building homes, it’s a talent, and it’s only up from there. I don’t believe in negativity. When you start blending with the negativity of the world, don’t label things good or bad. I steer away from the labeling and judging myself and others. Just try to do your best and that’s the best success.”

    Stang offers art classes for adults, teens, children and couples. Her gallery at 112 W. Washington Ave. is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. To learn more, visit www.stangarts.com or Like the page on Facebook.

    Samantha Newburn may be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or samantha.newburn@effinghamdailynews.com.

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