After 11 years serving as the executive director of ArtHaus in Port Orange, Laurie Gomon Ring retired Dec. 19.
ArtHaus was founded at Spruce Creek High School by Tim Ludwig and Ms. Ring in 1996 as a place to display student artwork. The City of Port Orange later stepped in and offered the building in which it now operates at 3840 S. Ridgewood Ave.
Ms. Ring took over as executive director in 2007. Mr. Ludwig is retired from Spruce Creek High and creates ceramic works as a potter locally.
ArtHaus is a unique non-profit organization that is dedicated to enhancing arts education in local schools and communities by showcasing student art exhibitions, providing visual arts education programs, and promoting in-depth cultural enrichment for the community.
Ms. Ring taught art in Volusia County Schools for more than 30 years and was a teacher at Spruce Creek High at the time of ArtHaus’ founding.
“Making art is a very important experience for anybody,” she said. “It’s not just a fun thing to do, it's way more than that. You go through so many avenues of high level thinking skills to make your decisions to make art.”
Art is especially helpful to developing young minds and ArtHaus has classed for children as young as five.
“Children’s art is our cultural future,” Ms. Ring said.
Assistant Director Cameron Vintson will take over as executive director.
“I would have retired earlier if I met Cameron sooner. I am ready to get back to painting and playing music,” Ms. Ring said. “I see in Cameron a passion and the willingness to work hard. It is an employment of love and passion and not money making. I think it is in good hands.”
Ms. Vintson started in art as a small child, entering art competitions and winning some of them. However, she changed her major in college from art to obtain a bachelor’s degree in communications and going on to get a master’s degree in marketing.
As a new mother, the business world didn’t give her much time with her son, Ricky and, having never lost her love of art, meeting Ms. Ring several months ago was kismet.
“I wish that I had art in my life a great deal more than I have had it. I see the kids faces in here when they come and see their artwork in the openings. I see the twinkle in their eye,” she said. “Walking through the gallery and seeing their artwork up is like a muse for them. They want to do the next project.”
Artists aren't the only ones who could use a daily dose of art.
“In today’s age I think it is undervalued and I would like to push it back on a pedestal, if you will, and make it shine again,” Ms Vintson said.
She stressed one of her goals is to work with the schools to make sure they get supplies they need for their art programs.
Ms. Ring will be missed, though.
“Laurie has been the heart and soul of ArtHaus for so long” Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette said. “I’m going to miss her, but she will continue to be a friend. She’s been such a friend to Port Orange for so long. She’s top notch.”
In gratitude for her self-sacrificing work, the board of directors of ArtHaus dedicated the student gallery to her.
The ArtHaus Gallery become the Laurie Gomon Ring Student Gallery Dec. 14.
Ms. Ring plans to pursue her other passion, music, with her husband, Glenn, including performing, which she has done before as part of the Magic Life Band.
Currently there is an extended display at ArtHaus of the Halifax Art Festival's student competition. The gallery has a different show every month and it is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, call (386) 767-0076 or visit arthaus.org.