191002_jos_creepyart1

Dana Massin didn’t always see herself as an artist — or, for that matter, as someone who would one day sell her own art in her own shop.

But a single spark of inspiration can go a long way, and Massin found that inspiration through Nesting Goods, a home decor and gift store in Downtown St. Joseph that specializes in local handmade artisan pieces and antiques. Having a place to sell the cards she’d always wanted to design fueled her artistic spirit, and now as the owner of her own business, she hopes to offer that same jumping-off point for other artists.

“I’d always considered myself to be not an artist but fascinated with the arts,” she says. “It was something I always denied myself and told myself I couldn’t do, but the reality is I probably am an artist and am very happy accessing that part of my brain.”

Massin opened her card shop, Manic Snail, in a small space in May 2018. Six months later, she upgraded to her current location at 618 Francis St. in St. Joseph. And this past July, she continued something she’d started in her first shop space: An art show series featuring local artists.

The theme for July’s show was “Creepy Cute,” inspired by an artist who replaces the faces on vintage cards with images of skulls. In all, the show featured 18 pieces from a variety of artists and was such a hit that Manic Snail hosted another art show in September — that one showcasing the theme “Google, Eyes and Googly Eyes.”

Massin notes that although her initial intent was not necessarily to carry the creepy theme through all of the shows, it does reflect where her tastes lie and may be what the community comes to expect.

“It will probably always be offbeat,” she says of the series. “Not flowers and landscapes.”

In keeping with that offbeat nature, the next show in the series will focus on Krampus, a darker counterpart to Santa Claus. Popular in German folklore, Krampus is a half goat, half demon creature said to punish children who misbehave during the Christmas season.

Manic Snail will host artists’ Krampus-inspired pieces in November, kicking off the show on Nov. 2 to coincide with the Downtown First Art and Wine Walk. Anyone interested in more information about this or other future shows can look under “events” at www.manic-snail.com.

Although these kinds of themes might be different than what many artists have tackled before, Massin has found that providing a specific prompt has been helpful in drawing participants who may not have previously shown their work in public. This was the case for one of the artists who contributed to the July show — then had doors open to show his work elsewhere in town.

“I knew if I created a non-intimidating space for local artists who may not have shown their work a whole lot, more would come forth,” Massin says. “It’s exciting to see people who are branching out.”

Local artist Rosie Lammoglia has participated in all of the Manic Snail’s art shows and notes that she appreciates their out-of-the-ordinary themes — one of which resulted in her designing a voodoo doll.

“Artists have an unusual way of thinking in the first place, but for these, you get to really dig into your creative self,” she says.

She adds that Massin is one of the most artistic and creative people she’s ever met and that she plans to participate in her shows for as long as she’s invited. And for Massin — although the intent of her shows was never to draw praise for her own artistry — the hope is that other artists will also find encouragement and inspiration in the platform she’s created.

“That’s what Nesting Goods did for me,” she says, “and I hope Manic Snail can do that for other people.”