Striving & Reviving
Sharon, PA is a small Rust Belt town being given a second chance at life. Our mission here at JCL Development is to lead the charge to restore and reenergize our town. Every day we are collaborating, creating, striving, and reviving to help polish this hidden gemstone.
The Art Coach: Meet Bobbie Fertig
She’s not much of a talking teacher — far more likely to give you a nudge or “What if you tried it like this.” And while she might not be chatty like Bob Ross of PBS fame, painting with Bobbie Fertig promises to be a joy-filled experience.
Author: Jeff Coleman | June 7th, 2023
Painting an identity outside of the x’s and o’s of a husband’s success as a collegiate basketball coach isn’t a goal for Bobbie Fertig, but talent as an artist and teacher is quietly earning attention in Sharon. Her new teaching studio is in the glass and concrete space of the basement at 49 South Sharpsville Avenue—The Armory Apartments that once housed the Julia F. Buhl Girls’ Club. The sunlit room is somewhat spartan with a smattering of easels, stools, canvases, and supplies. But the impression made by the artist and her space is a serious one.
On the wall hang a few striking, but melancholy, portraits of unnamed subjects—works that might surprise those who know the effervescent Bobbie. Nothing in her demeanor easily explains the choice of reflective, even somber portraiture, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless. “My work isn’t joyful,” she says.
Bobbie and her husband Les, recently moved to the area from South Carolina to be closer to grandchildren. After years of hopscotching across the country on NCAA assignments, the quiet studio is a contrast. The arena is intimate. No bands. No crowds. Just the sound of brushstrokes on canvas.
As Fertig welcomes new students and scours the Sharon area for fellow artists to tag team, she knows this is something of an experiment in a community with deep working-class roots. “There might be more going on here than is visible,” she assessed.
What would she say to a retired steelworker or tradesman about exploring a curiosity for painting? “Anyone should try it. It’s like meditation. It’s wonderful to create.” She really believes anyone with an interest should try it—at least once.
But she also hints that the process of expression might be a bit like open heart surgery for the soul. “It opens your gut”—exposing fears, hidden anxieties, and ideas that may have been long ago obscured by the pressures of workaday life. Be prepared to know yourself better.
If you sign up for lessons, don’t expect a chattering narrator to interrupt with minute-by-minute advice or encouragement. She’s not much of a talking teacher — far more likely to give you a nudge or “What if you tried it like this.” And while she might not be chatty like Bob Ross of PBS fame, painting with Bobbie Fertig promises to be a joy-filled experience. You’ll see.
Get connected with Bobbie at [email protected]