Community Voices: Exploring Shared Lives Studio & Gallery

Snowflakes for Winterfest
Shared Lives Studio and Gallery, which employs adult artists with developmental disabilities, has been eager to collaborate with the Toledo Mud Hens for a while. The gallery has been a staple in the Toledo Warehouse District since 2010, and is conveniently situated at 20 North Saint Clair St., directly across from Fifth-Third Field.

Because of the gallery’s close proximity to the baseball field — you can see right over third base if you’re on the top floor — art director Lori Schoen has been thinking of creative projects “her guys” could get their hands on.

So when the Toledo Walleye announced their plans for Winterfest, which includes transforming Fifth-Third Field into an outdoor skating rink, it was the perfect opportunity for Shared Lives artists to show off their skills.

“What has happened between Shared Lives and the Toledo Walleye has been one of the coolest experiences our artists have had,” Schoen says.

Shared Lives employees are used to working with recWinterfest_Shared Lives_Hockeystick Snowflake1ycled materials, and this special project involved transforming broken hockey sticks into 70-inch wide snowflakes. The sticks were dropped off in early October for the artists to prep and prime. Two weeks later, members of the Toledo Walleye team visited the gallery to help paint the pieces in various colors and wintry themes.

“It was truly an amazing day,” Schoen recalls. “I’m so proud of the Walleye representing Toledo. They are such great guys and it showed by the way they were involved and how kind they were as they painted side by side with our artists.”

Enough snowflakes were made for every Winterfest community partner to proudly display at their offices and headquarters.

Going Beyond the Frame
Schoen says that Shared Lives has been fortunate to make new connections in the community every day. Many local businesses, including Grumpy’s restaurant and the Park Inn, display artwork by Shared Lives artists on their walls. Additionally, companies and individuals sometimes rent centerpieces for their events or request Shared Lives to make awards.

During Winterfest, Shared Lives and ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital are partnering to present a pop-up exhibit of Beyond the Frame, an interactive and educational photography exhibit that highlights beautiful interactions between patients, families and medical staff on permanent display at Toledo Children’s. Many of the photos feature individuals with chronic conditions and genetic disorders. Organized by the ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council, Beyond the Frame explores the principles of Patient and Family-Centered Care. The exhibit was created through the groundwork and vision of award-winning photographer Rick Guidotti, founder and director of Positive Exposure.

“This particular exhibit is stunning and shows people with disabilities in a positive light,” says Schoen.” The photographer captured the essence of the people, and not their disabilities.”

Schoen explains that there are advantages to showcasing the exhibit at an established gallery — especially one that employs artists with disabilities.

“Hopefully this will get people in the community to see the bigger connection, that we are all the same, regardless of our abilities.”

Schoen takes us behind the scenes of Shared Lives Studio and Gallery in the video below:

Beyond the Frame runs during Winterfest at Shared Lives Studio & Gallery, 20 North Saint Clair St. from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, December 26 – Saturday, December 27 and Saturday, January 3. Free popcorn is available on December 26 and a free Photo Booth Live experience is taking place on December 27. For more information about Shared Lives, please visit