USArtQuest Relocates


Each week for many years, local special needs high school students have been coming to a massive warehouse to learn life-translatable skills such as how to manufacture by following a formula, measuring, mixing, and packaging. However, the business inside the warehouse is closing, possibly leaving these educational programs in the lurch.

USArtQuest, a business centered around creative thinking, art, and formerly housed in a large warehouse off Old US 12, chose to make the move to WSEC due to the retirement of Susan Pickering Rothamel, main founder of USArtQuest.

With Rothamel’s retirement shutting down USArtQuest, she and her family wanted to somehow continue providing special needs students with a variety of useful and  employable skills which led to the creation of the program AABLE.

“Because my retirement [was] imminent, our family formed a foundation called AABLE – Alternative Art & Business Learning Environment,” Rothamel said in a letter sent out to community members. “The mission [of AABLE] is ‘To enhance the quality of life and employability of the developmentally disabled through real-life programs using translatable processes in the businesses of art, manufacturing, and peripheral industries.’”

Since USArtQuest has been a smashing hit, the business has made gift pallets of their art paper and art supplies; which were then given to twenty-two different school districts, three Universities, and nine nursing homes. AABLE was also given a gift: the program will now be the recipient of about half the entire USArtQuest business.

“This means that fixtures, tables, bins of raw materials, manufacturing processes, formulas, packaging/labeling, and the wholesale/distribution customer base will be completely gifted to AABLE,” Rothamel said in her letter.

Because USArtQuest/AABLE is moving to the old Chelsea High School to become a working environment, some worry that they may not be able to access the materials produced by USArtQuest.

“Fortunately, you can still continue purchasing many of our products from your favorite local or online store,” Rothamel said. “Proceeds from the sale of our products—100% of them—will go directly to pay for one part-time coordinator, and then all the materials necessary to continue the program by learning manufacturing and shipping.”

Seeing as USArtQuest/AABLE has deep ties to its founding family, Rothamel’s daughter Cris will continue her experience of 17 years at USAQ as the new AABLE program coordinator. Rothamel’s ‘retired’ role will continue as creative director with online marketing and valuable demonstrations of the products, and will include having the opportunity to connect with the students.

“We hope that you will continue to purchase our products and support the special needs community through those purchases,” Rothamel said.