The Walk In Arts Center in Schuylkill Haven opens a new teaching center

August 31 – SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – The chatter of young people painting, throwing pottery and making bracelets reassured Bert and Josette Evans on Tuesday afternoon as they strolled through the new arts education center at the Walk In Art Center.

“They are our future,” said Bert Evans, chairman of the board of Evans Delivery Co. in Schuylkill Haven.

Josette, Bert’s wife of 61 years, delighted with the joy on the children’s faces.

“Art expands your life,” she said. “Children need to be exposed to art early on.”

The Evans family were instrumental in converting a downstairs storage area into a large space for arts and crafts classes for children and adults. The family owns the building at 220 Parkway, the former Walkin shoe factory.

The center had planned an outdoor groundbreaking ceremony to launch its new education center.

A few minutes before the start, the sky opened up and it poured out. The event has been moved indoors.

Jacqueline Engel, executive director of the Walk In Art Center, was understandably disappointed but grateful that the rain is helping farmers.

The center invited 80 children from its summer camp program to attend the inauguration of the educational center. The theme was “Around the World,” Engel said, and the students explored other countries through art.

Robert S. Carl Jr., president and CEO of the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce, praised Evans for turning a storage area into a great classroom for the arts.

“Bert Evans had a vision of what it could be,” Carl said. “And today is another day of this trip.”

Plans are underway, Carl said, for a new main entrance to the building and a pavilion for outdoor concerts.

Carl introduced representatives from elected officials, including U.S. Representative Dan Meuser, R-9, Dallas, and State Senator David G. Argall, R-29, Rush Twp.

County Commissioners Baron L. “Boots” Hetherington, Chairman, and Gary J. Hess also made remarks.

State Representative Tim Twardzik, R-123, Butler Twp., applauded the Evans family’s commitment.

“My wife is a former first grade teacher and she knows how important art is,” he said. “Look what we have here; art is so important to the community.”

Gloria Skawinsky brought her grandchildren, Addy and Caleb Stack, to the dedication.

“Art is important,” said Skawinsky, a retired receptionist who lives in Auburn. “It makes kids creative.”

Debbie Gilbert, a potter from Schuylkill Haven, demonstrated a technique for molding a piece of clay into a fish to 4-year-old Sloan Chivinski of Pottsville.

“It keeps their minds active and their hands busy,” said Gilbert, president of the center’s artist collective. “Children learn quickly. They come with fewer restrictions and more imagination than adults.”

Sloan’s mother, Samantha Chivinski, proudly watched her daughter beat a ball of clay.

“I am grateful for the opportunities for children in this community,” said Chivinski, director of public relations at the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. “It develops their interest and helps them discover what excites them.”

For more information, visit the Walk In Arts Center on Facebook or at www.walkinartscenter.orgemail or call 570-732-3728.

Contact the author:; 570-628-6007

William E. Bennett