Laurie Bostian is no stranger to downtown Lincolnton.
The former executive director for the Arts Council once had a studio on Main Street where she would spend hours painting in the window. From the time it opened its doors in 2007 to when she moved to Charlotte to work for the Charlotte Arts League in 2011, the Personal Artist Studio served as a beacon for the arts community in Lincoln County.
Whether teaching at the Lincoln Charter School or giving private lessons, Bostian has certainly made her mark on the community, but it was the small town charm and the warm people that brought her back from the Queen City.
“I started to really miss my place,” she said. “I missed painting in that window, being part of the Main Street scene. I started flipping through pictures and I just became wistful and that pulls pretty strong.”
According to Bostian, timing in her move back to Lincoln County and establishing her new loft in the top floor of the Anderson Building has been nothing but fortuitous. A casual conversation with Cultural Center director Cathy Davis in 2012 started a chain of events that would eventually lead to Bostian re-opening her studio.
“I happened to be coming up for one of my regular Tuesday classes and Cathy Davis mentioned to me that they were looking for a new director so I applied,” Bostian said.
Working with the Arts Council allowed Bostian the opportunity to champion the arts in the county, but it kept her incredibly busy, taking away personal time that she previously had to paint.
“I guess that’s what motivated me to get back into my own place,” she said. “When I was at the Arts Council…I was very involved and it took a lot of my time and when I did have free time, I didn’t have it in me to sit down and paint a portrait. I need to paint. I painted a lot when I had my studio and I was happy. Even times in my life when I struggled financially, painting made me happy. It made it all worth it, so I had to get back to that.”
Bostian was motivated by more than her need to paint to bring her studio back to life in Lincolnton. It was the warm reception she received when she initially opened doors to Personal Artist in 2007.
“When I came to Lincolnton in 2007, there was a part of me that needed to remember who I was,” she said. “I’d not done with my art work what I felt I still had to do, so I opened the studio. The four years I was there I just kind of fell in love with it (Lincolnton) and part of that was because, being a stranger and not having any friends and family when I moved here, I was touched by how immediately everybody just wrapped their arms around me and I felt like I had a home. That doesn’t go away.”
Even during her time in Charlotte, Bostian said every time she came to Lincolnton for lessons or to visit friends, she felt like she was coming home. It was no wonder that when the top floor of the Anderson Building came available, she jumped at the chance to take it and make a home on Main Street once again.
Now surrounded by old wooden beams, wrought iron chandeliers, painted brick and a spectacular view of Main Street, Bostian uses the space as her private residence and her studio where she takes students as young as four and as old as in their 70s. She emphasizes the importance of art, not just as a hobby or as a passion, but also as an avenue for therapy. A follower of the school of thought that art is truly personal and there is no right way or wrong way to do it, Bostian’s goal when it comes to art education isn’t so much technique but self-expression that ultimately leads to right brain development and problem-solving skills.
“I think (painting) is a really great way for people to explore,” she said. “Kids, adults, things just kind of come out of you when you paint that don’t come out in other things that you do.”
Classes are held on Mondays in what she calls Laurie’s Loft. Teens and adult lessons are from 10 a.m.–11:45 a.m. and ages 4 and up are from 4:30 p.m.–6 p.m. For more information, visit www.personalartist.com.