COB51 Art Studio Brings Art to Everyone
By Lisa Gregory | Photography by Melissa Ring
If it’s Saturday, Lisa Bowers and her friend Missy Krepps will be at COB51 Art Studio in Hanover, no doubt about it.
“We have a standing date every Saturday,” says Bowers. “We go to the hot dog shop right beside there and have our lunch and then around noon or so until four we are at COB51. After a busy week with our families and all, it’s our time.”
There, the two women can be creative to their hearts’ content. “Time just slides by,” says Bowers, “because you are so into what you are doing.”
COB51, at 48 Carlisle St., offers artistic projects and activities that include ceramic and pottery painting, mosaics, canvas and wood board art, and, more recently, even glass blowing. One can just “walk in and do art,” says owner Lisa Martin, or take lessons.
All are invited and included, no matter the age or skill level.
Toddler Time for youngsters features a story and art project, while there’s a Kids Art Club for children ages 4 to 10 as well as summer camps and a place to celebrate birthday parties. Yet, adults aren’t left out.
For them, COB51 offers BYOB paint nights, a venue to hold fundraisers, and even an opportunity to celebrate upcoming nuptials for bridal parties.
“We want to bring art to everyone,” says Martin—and the joy that comes with it. “I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces.”
COB51 originally began in Westminster, Maryland. “COB” stands for “Create Outside the Box,” while 51 is from the art studio’s original address. However, when Martin and her wife decided to move their family to Hanover in 2020, Martin brought COB51 to its Hanover location. She says she helped keep the business afloat during the pandemic by putting together art kits that could be easily done at home before finally being allowed to open their doors.
The last few years have not been easy. During a time of great stress, art can provide a comforting outlet—and COB51 is a welcomed respite.
“It’s a wonderful feeling and a wonderful place,” says Bowers.
She especially enjoys working on ceramics and has the collection at home to prove it, including gnomes, her personal favorite. “I’d say I have 20 or so,” Bowers says of her overall collection, which includes gnomes, cats, and other items.
But that’s not all. Bowers recently completed painting a ceramic toad house. “We just moved into a new home and, low and behold, we have a toad living in our yard,” she says with a grin.
Despite her enthusiasm for ceramics, she has been branching out as of late.
“I have two ongoing projects,” she says. “One is a mosaic and then I have a wood cutout. I collect pigs, so Lisa cut me out a pretty nice size pig. I’m painting that right now.”
Bowers enjoys that personal connection with Martin. “If you mention to her that you like something or that you’re a collector of something in particular, the next time you go in she’ll have stuff sitting there for you to choose from because she listens,” Bowers explains. “She really listens to everybody.”
Bowers is not alone in her multitude of COB51 creations. Matthew Arlington and his daughter, Isla, 8, are frequent visitors to COB51 as well. The duo especially enjoys painting ceramics, and their completed projects have a place of honor in their home. “Mostly they are Isla’s, but I have few,” says Arlington. “I really like the open-door policy to come in, pick a piece, and then paint it.
“Lisa keeps it fresh and interesting. She has everything you need. The supplies are ready for you; you just need to show up.”
Martin was a paramedic for 15 years before she became interested in establishing her own art studio. A self-taught artist, she’s always on the lookout for new and different offerings for her clientele. The latest is a new blown glass ornament class now being offered, an event so popular that the classes sold out in minutes, says Martin, and continued to sell out as she added more classes. A recent weekend saw the creation of more than 300 glass ornaments by class attendees.
“My husband wants to try that one,” says Bowers. And, no doubt, she will consider it as well. After all, Bowers and others like her have found a community of creative minds and busy hands right in downtown Hanover.
“You go in on a Saturday, and all the tables are filled with people painting,” Bowers says. “Everybody starts talking to each other, because they see different items that people are doing, and they comment on them. There is just this feeling of joy. And the world needs that right now.”
COB51 art studio
48 Carlisle St., Hanover