AMESBURY – Deb and Steve Schmill were students at Montserrat College of Art when they first met.
“He was focusing on illustration, while I was focusing on photography,” Deb said. “We had a few lessons together and maybe we got in trouble a few times for flirting.”
This flirtation would blossom in their 26 year marriage which resulted in two daughters, one son and rich careers. Steve works with tech companies as a user experience designer, while Deb has built a fine art photography studio in downtown Amesbury.
“In 2008 we moved to Amesbury to raise our family,” Deb said. “We fell in love with the community, and when I decided to open my studio, I wanted it to stay local.”
As Deb initially operated her studio from her home, setting up space in her attic, she would eventually find a spot on the second floor of 111 Main Street. Then, last fall, Deb’s fledgling idea came to life.
“I had always wanted to open a storefront,” Deb said. “I found myself staring at the vacant space at 44 Main Street. Then I was having a casual chat with some friends when I mentioned this dream and this space, and they said “do it”.
Maybe it was something about the way they said it, but Deb took that encouragement and started to bounce the idea off more friends and family.
“From the moment I heard it, I loved it,” Steve said. “It just clicked.”
Deb weighed in opening a gallery, or maybe just an art store. But she knew she wanted it to be more.
“I wanted to empower people to be creative and inspire them,” Deb said. “I didn’t just want people to come in and buy art. I was hoping to create a space where clients would leave wanting to create their own art.
Deb and Steve asked the owner of 44 Main Street to open her gallery and art supply store. The owner was excited and the couple wasted no time signing a lease. It was their birthday.
“Definitely not like a typical birthday,” Deb reflected. “But a place where we can celebrate this next exciting adventure.”
The future Alchemy + Art had a home, so the two of them worked on updating the space.
“We’re right on the corner of Main Street, Mill Street and Friend Street so people have been able to see the progress over the past few weeks,” Deb said. “We chose the space because of its location, and it’s so encouraging to have people who have already pointed their heads and asked what’s coming.”
Deb and Steve welcomed the interest because it was their own passion for Amesbury town center that drove them to move to this new space.
“We love our downtown core and wanted this business we’re building to help keep it vibrant,” Deb said. “Rather than wait for another fun store to come in, why not start one ourselves! “
The Schmills have stocked Alchemy + Art shelves with supplies that appeal to artists of all types and stages.
“We have materials for kids and adults who just dip their toes in artistic expression,” Deb explained. “Although we also have materials that would be aimed at more advanced artists. “
The couple filled the gallery space they built with a variety of mediums, including sculpture, charcoal, photography, painting, and encaustic. Each work of art is unique and created by local artists.
“Amesbury has such a rich arts community,” Deb said. “When I think back to our goal of empowerment and inspiration, Alchemy + Art creates this space that allows us to showcase and sell locally created works of art, while giving aspiring artists the tools to harness their own. imagination. “
Alchemy + Art cut the ribbon for their new space on October 22, hosting an artists reception before fully opening their doors on October 23.
“Alchemy is taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary,” Deb said. “I hope this is how people see what we have built.”
“I love that the Schmills took a vacant space in our town center and turned it into something unique and exciting,” said Phil DeCologero, executive director of the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that they were motivated by both their love for their estate and their love for Amesbury, makes it all the more special.”
To learn more about Alchemy + Art, please visit their website at www.alchemyart44.com.