Category Archives: Featured

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Hearts Grow Fonder of The New Kids in the Park: The Second Year of HeART of the City at Three Rivers Festival


My one-year anniversary with Fort Wayne HeART of the City has just recently passed. When Daniel Church (Porchmoon) asked me to write for the website, I laughed and demanded to know why he wanted me to ruin things for him. It was that idea, however, that started the local art collective; include your friends and make cool stuff.  I cornered Daniel at work and forced him to answer questions about how HotC started, festival involvement and dragging his friends along to create a welcoming environment for local artists, new and established, in and around Fort Wayne.

Daniel explains, “Fort Wayne and the surrounding area has a big attraction for outside festivals. We have so many talented creatives in our area, but they don’t always have the resources to get their foot in the door if they even know where to go. I had lunch with Jack Hammer to discuss a few things along with the idea of creating many things. The want for a strong art festival is there and Jack offered up a piece of the Three Rivers Festival because he believes in local art, too. I have done things for TRF for a long time now, helping with photography and marketing. I picked Jack’s brain and we found a way to use the connections I had to help others promote their art.”

The collective’s first show was during TRF in 2017. Meeting what seems like every artistic human under the sun with his Porchmoon work, Daniel had no problem getting folks on board. “You gather friends with things that you have in common. I have a great group around me that love to create. They all have their own view on things and we pitch ideas all of the time. We have done many art events together including traveling out of town to see what others are doing, while showing our own work. You eventually start to see what others need help with or what is missing. When you have resources that could help others because you have already done that step, why not help? Art for everyone is a win-win.”

The resources and community are appreciated by the local artists whom have joined together for the festival. Molly Rose Wyrick, from Molly Rose and Company in New Haven, says that she first heard of Heart of the City at the ACPL’s downtown location last year during the TRF, and shortly after participated in Tekventure’s art and music festival mastermindedby Beth Collier, another HotC founder. “This will be my first year participating in this event. I’m looking forward to sharing the energy and enthusiasm of the other artists and being a part of TRF in the arts arena.”

Kari Larsen, owner of Ostari Couture, shares the excitement after her involvement last year, “Last year was the first time I had ever participated in an art festival. I had done a few fashion shows back in 2014 and 2015, but I was both nervous and excited for the TRF. What I enjoyed the most was the friendly atmosphere. Everyone was really nice, and it was incredible to see the Fort Wayne talent and be able to say hello and learn a little about each artist and their body of work.”

Local nurse Sarah Gunder, creating art as an escape and outlet, is enjoying the support she receives from the community. “I am a digital artist, using photoshop to manipulate photographs into conceptual and composite images to tell a story. I have been obsessed with photography since I was a kid. It wasn’t until recently that my close friends and family have pushed me to do more with my work. If it wasn’t for their support, I probably would not be doing any of this.”

Support and enthusiasm for creating is a running theme for Heart of the City artists. Amy Clark recognizes this and after hearing about Heart of the City from Rhapsody Gallery, she’s looking forward to seeing the work of the other talented artists. “I have lived in Fort Wayne most of my life and I have loved seeing the art scene here grow and evolve! It’s an exciting thing to be a part of. I don’t see this growth stopping anytime soon. It makes me wonder what this city will look like in the next 10-20 years. The thing that frustrates me is a large portion of Fort Wayne residents are unaware of the art and art events that happen in our city, so they don’t take advantage of them. I appreciate that groups like HotC are working on changing that.”

Come meet these artists and more, hear their stories and make new connections this year at the HeART of the City art festival during the Three Rivers Festival. This two-day event will begin at 11am on July 14th and end on July 15th at 5pm, located in the heart of the Three Rivers Festival at Freimann Square.


Written by Chele Heck

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The Art of Healing

Category:Featured,Featured Interview,Press

Dr. Aggarwal and Tricia Cavender, who moonlights as a hair dresser when she’s not co-running her art gallery, have been working on a project to brighten the halls of the Fort Wayne oncology buildings. What started as an idea during their regular hair appointments, began a process of artistry with patients and families who needed something to look forward to during long and draining cancer treatment sessions.

Cancer has been a six-letter word for Tricia. She and her then three-year-old son watched her late husband, Robert Cavender, succumb to colon cancer in 2006 after only having been diagnosed for a month. She’s avoided hospitals since. After meeting Dr. Aggarwal, Tricia realized that there are physicians who are willing to go above and beyond to ensure their patient’s comfort, and that some patients survive treatment. “[Dr. Aggarwal] wanted to bring in original art to have them focus on what she calls something other than “I have cancer””. The two brainstormed “The Art of Healing” during those hair appointments.

Originally, they planned to hang artwork in the Fort Wayne Oncology Parkview North campus in the infusion rooms. Artwork would rotate out every three months. But after seeing the scope of the entire project and the positive feedback from patients, she enlisted the help of other artists and The HeArt of the City. Tricia now finds artists willing to hang their original pieces in the oncology treatment rooms and hallways, and manages the pieces.


Treatment is a long road for patients and family to travel, and it’s extremely difficult. “Dr. Aggarwal and I really just want to give those affected by cancer a way of meditating on something positive.” The article “Visual art in hospitals: case studies and review of the evidence” discusses the impact of art on both patients, staff, and visitors. One study concluded that visual art can reduce the length of a patient’s hospital stay, increase tolerance to pain, and lower their anxiety. Another study, “The Healing Environment: without and within” states, “levels of depression and anxiety tended to be lower in patients undergoing chemotherapy who were exposed to visual art than in patients not exposed to visual art.” Every study proves that art benefits all involved in the healing process.

Tricia is always looking for more artists to get involved by submitting artwork. “My hope is for the good vibes of this project to snowball and if a patient or family member spends time looking at a piece of art that helped them heal they will take that work of art home,” but the ultimate goal is to alleviate the stress of hospital stays and treatment. Non-artists can also get involved by donating. Rhapsody, Tricia’s art gallery, is holding an event to held raise funds for “The Art of Healing” to provide materials needed to hang work.

Written By: Kaitlin Christenberry


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