JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Many healthy communities also boast a strong arts community. There is big push in the Tri-Cities region to grow the arts, reaching those who haven’t had much exposure to it.

A Johnson City gallery owner wants everyone to feel at home in her space, regardless of their background or art education. It started out as a hunt for studio space, but it turned into something much more Nancy Fischman.

“Well, it’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” Fischman said. “I’ve been involved with the arts since we moved here in 1978, and when I turned 60 – which was a while ago – I began taking classes at ETSU in ceramics and really got into the ceramics. And I wanted, first of all, to find my own studio space. Second of all, it’s always been in my mind that we needed a tighter arts community here where people can work together and feed off of each other’s ideas.”

That’s how Fischman Gallery on Commerce Street was born.

“So when I fell into this building on Commerce Street, it was perfect,” she said. “It was just the right time, and it was the right building. So I’m just excited that I was able to do this. It’s just been great.”

Fischman loves to highlight local artists and social causes. The next exhibit opening soon will highlight both local and international artists, and sales will aid Ukrainian refugees. A cause that is close to patron Nelly Ostrovsky’s heart.

“I am not artistic at all, but my dad is a painter,” Ostrovsky said. “So I’ve always had an appreciation for art. I always felt that artists can not only express themselves in a different way than most people can, but they also bring the joy and beauty into communities that they leave into people’s life. So I was thrilled to team up with Nancy here just to have that opportunity to do such civic duties. That’s what we do, is our organization, Vols for Ukraine, but also combine that with our local, mostly local artists.”

Fischman said visitors do not have to know anything about art to visit and appreciate the exhibits.

“They (artists) want the viewer to be able to respond to it, have a personal response to whatever is there,” Fischman said. “And I think just allowing, just having monthly exhibits and having different kinds of art, different styles, different media, I think just really broadens everybody’s view of the world. So no, you don’t have to be educated to come.”

“I think it is once you are exposed to anything beautiful, I think you ultimately become kinder,” Ostrovsky said. “That’s kind of how I feel about it, but I think the beauty leads to kindness and kindness leads to civic engagement, to a better relationship, if you would, with yourself, with others, with community.”

You can find the Fischman Gallery at 133 N Commerce Street in downtown Johnson City.