Artist studios, gallery space, and a strong education program: a winning combination? Yes, indeed, the southern Oregon community has embraced the Ashland Art Center (AAC) which provides all those services in an attractive space on Ashland’s E Main street.
The Ashland Art Center has enjoyed rapid growth in its five and a half years of existence. But quickly expanding programs and services have also brought multiplying challenges to the Board and staff. In August of 2013 Denise Baxter, AAC’s executive director, contacted me regarding a proposal to the Ford Family Foundation to request support for the creation of a three year development plan. The attractive studios in which local artists work, the intriguing gallery and the array of education programs have attracted both foundation grant funds and generous support from donors. Nevertheless, the clear need for sustainable sources of income and a plan to support these exceptional programs was evident.
The Ford Family Foundation was generous, and interested in the future of the Ashland Art Center. They provided sufficient funds to hire a consultant who would help map a stable future for AAC.
Denise Baxter’s vision and the energy and dedication of the Board of Directors impressed me a great deal and I agreed to conduct a survey of their development opportunities and to make recommendations regarding their future. My first task was to interview a variety of people who had had experience with AAC. Board members, donors, artists, community members—all were eager to describe their experience with the Art Center. The results of the informal survey were that everyone admired Denise’s vision, admired the creativity of the studio artists and the glow of the gallery, admired the opportunities to see artists at work. Descriptions of their long-range future included a sculpture studio space, expanded studios, an artist in residence, and an extended Art Inspires Ashland.
Even so, not enough of the southern Oregon community knows or appreciates the Ashland Art Center. Their early work will be to increase their visibility in the area. Just coming through the door of the Center is an inspiring experience; then strolling through the studios, seeing works in process, intrigues and invites the imagination.
The next part of our planning process will include identifying foundations and individuals who share the vision of support for artists—both their work and their opportunities for sales, community education in the visual arts, and the balance between earned and donated income.
Given the level of admiration and enthusiasm the community currently demonstrates toward the Ashland Art Center, their future is filled with promise. With hard work, good marketing, and thoughtful contact with those who share the love for the visual arts, the Ashland Art Center has a bright future.
Thalia Keple‘s weekly Jewelry Open Studio is fabulous. Each Sunday morning, you’ll learn to make a new project that will give you a jewelry-making technique to add to a growing repertoire and a lovely, hand-crafted gift you can keep or give away!
So far, students have learned to make earrings and bracelets with various kinds of beads, earring hooks, wires, and structures.
For beginners, Thalia will get you comfortable with the basics, and as you progress you’ll find out how easy and addictive it is to make your own jewelry. If you’re brand new, Thalia starts you off with learning to make simple loops, a basic skill that helps you make almost anything.
For intermediate to advanced jewelry-makers, you’ll have a great time working with Thalia – she loves to experiment and share her knowledge and process with students. She’s currently experimenting with making her own polymer beads. Also, she is looking forward to making paper beads in the Open Studio.
Thalia is an AAC Studio Artist whose jewelry is gorgeous and easily recognizable. Her signature needlewoven necklaces are miniature tapestries mixed with beads and metals. Many are quite dramatic and have talisman-like qualities. She has worked with fibers for over 40 years and has had a fascinating journey from sewing her first apron as a child to her current interests in jewelrymaking, weaving, and fiber arts. Visit her studio at the top of the stairs at AAC and see her lovely work in the gallery.
Come check Jewelry Open Studio! It’s just $12 to drop in, or if you pre-register for any five classes they’re $10 each. Tools and some materials are provided, including basic beads, donated jewelry, wires, and more. But there are also some optional, project kits Thalia puts together for between $3 – $6. Want an easy way to get started? Grab some old beaded earrings, necklaces, or bracelets from home and bring them in to upcycle them into something wonderful. See you Sundays!
SUNDAYS, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
This Month’s Classes:
The next two Sundays, well-known Ashland artisan and AAC Studio Artist Stephanie Gould will be subbing for Thalia. Stephanie will be teaching cabachon beading basics in two parts. There will be a choice of cabachons already attached to a piece of material, and a selection of beads to choose from for a $4 material fee. This is an incredible opportunity to learn this beading technique while creating something lovely to take home.
Then, Thalia will be back March 31 to teach us how to make wrapped wire rings.
Free Expressions, once a monthly free class, is now every Thursday, 3:30 – 4:30 pm. This popular class features awesome materials for maximum creativity and art creation. There are tables of supplies in various media, including: assemblage, painting/drawing, collage, felting, jewelry, and more!
We have a teacher and two TAs who help get participants started making art and then you’ll be off and running. Recommended for children of all ages, this is a great opportunity for the whole family to have a blast making something fun to take home.
Ages 6 and younger need a supervising adult present. All parents must sign in at the start of the class with their emergency contact information. So you know – Parents are encouraged to stay and have fun making their own art!
See you Thursdays @ AAC!
“Art therapy is a way of addressing issues without having to rely on verbalizing everything. This is very helpful with trauma or other emotional life experiences that are often beyond words. No art experience or skill is necessary to take advantage of this way of allowing the unconscious to speak and the Self to heal.
As a registered art therapist I give my clients a safe space where expression without judgment is supported. I work with adolescents and adults in both brief and long-term art psychotherapy. I work with people to transform trauma and anxiety, as well as those questioning sexuality and gender identity. The modality and practice of art psychotherapy combined with my background in depth psychology create a therapeutic experience that supports your own internal wisdom in the process. I am also practical and provide immediate skills to my clients for managing stress, changing detrimental thought patterns and behaviors, and gaining insight.
I have worked for more than a decade with people who have experienced severe trauma in childhood. I work with both survivors of sex abuse and offenders (within a youth correctional facility). I also have 15 years of experience working with LGBTQ youth and adults.”
A woman in her 40′s was about to touch her watercolor brush to the paper for the first time and her hand was trembling. She said she was very scared and didn’t know if she could actually do it…but, then, she did! She made a mark of color on the paper, then another, then more. Soon she had painted the apple in front of her and was giggling like a young school girl. Her painting was primitive, but very bright and full of joy! It delighted her and the rest of us as we witnessed her transition from panic to happy excitement.
She then told us the story of why she was so frightened to paint. Tearfully, she told us in the first grade she was asked to draw a turkey by tracing around her hand and then color it. When she finished, the teacher told her it was bad work and stood her in front of the class and humiliated her. She never tried to draw or color anything again!
This is a fairly extreme case, but many of us have had early experiences of someone critiquing our art and making us feel we have no talent for art. We might have decided then and there that art ”just wasn’t our thing.” Or we might have simply compared our creations to someone else’s and decided ours “just wasn’t good enough.”
No matter what the source, the Critic in our head can discourage us from ever tryingart or, if we do try, from ever enjoying it or allowing ourselves to experiment with art. My belief is that we are all artists. We all have natural creativity that is basic to human nature. There is not a wrong way to be artistic! Art is about the unique expression of the individual. You really can’t do it wrong, especially if you are having fun with it and letting yourself be yourself!
So, what we want to do with the class, Finding the Artist Within, is first of all, confront that Critic and silence him or her and choose to take a chance to express ourselves in new ways, to find the Artist Within! How that Artist will express, nobody knows. It might be timid and tenative at first or it might burst out, big and bold! The only rules will be that we have fun doing it and we don’t criticize ourselves or anyone else. Are you ready?
Jack Wiens will be offering a free art-making class Tuesday, October, 8, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm at Ashland Art Center. He will also be teaching a three-hour workshop Saturday, October 12, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at AAC. The cost for the workshop is $25 Members and $30 General. Click here for the registration form. See you there!