Community comes through for artist

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hundreds of people milled around the Suffolk Museum on Saturday night.

Some sat with refreshments, while others talked in corners. Some admired the textile art on the walls, and others voted on gift baskets, theater tickets and art in the silent auction.

However, they all came for one purpose — to support a local artist and her family.

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“It’s really been great,” Angelia Armstrong, owner of the Red Thread Studio on West Washington Street, said. “Everybody’s been so supportive.”

Armstrong’s studio, which showcases and sells pieces from area artists, one-of-a-kind clothes, knitting items and instructional books, was severely damaged in a fire Aug. 6 that broke out in an apartment above the adjacent business.

Armstrong said she is having trouble agreeing on the value of the damaged art with her insurance company, which is holding up the process of recovery. Also, she will now have to put in her own staircase to the upstairs tenant, Dave’s Fitness Coaching. Before the fire, Dave’s shared a staircase with the upstairs apartment next door between the two buildings.

Armstrong said she’s received numerous cards and well-wishes from people in the community asking her to reopen — which she acknowledged she will do.

In the meantime, Armstrong has been working out of nearby arts location Shooting Star Gallery, selling some of her products there. Armstrong also works as a sewing and fashion design instructor at the Renaissance arts school in North Suffolk, from which many supporters came on Saturday.

Linda Bunch, director of the Suffolk Art League and one of the organizers of the event, said the event seemed to be a success. The organizers already had raised hundreds of dollars selling snow cones and other snacks at the Taste of Suffolk event earlier in the day.

“I’m excited and pleased with the number of folks that are here,” Bunch said, especially with the short time frame organizers had to pull the event off.

Area businesses, organizations and individuals came through with donations of cash, food and silent auction items to make the event a success, Bunch said.

As for Armstrong herself, she was overwhelmed by the generosity, she said.

“I’m just really thankful and surprised.”