Art Experiences for ALL Ages: Students to Seniors
While Art Unleashed Inc. has only been operating since last year, the organization has a long history in Chesterfield.
The non-profit organization — which relies on tax-deductible donations to support its programs — offers an array of arts education classes for those of all ages and abilities in a variety of themes and media geared to many interests and skill levels. In addition to pottery, watercolor, acrylic and drawing, new “theme” classes are offered, focusing on specific subjects like landscapes or animals.
Classes are offered in several formats ranging from one-night workshops to eight-week sessions.
The group’s roots go back to the former Chesterfield Arts organization, founded in 1995 to provide arts education through fostering visual, performing and literary arts and placing public art on display throughout the community.
Through 2014, Chesterfield Arts served the community through offering art classes, community projects, performances, literary events and more, as well as offering gallery exhibits for local and regional artists to present their artwork.
In 2014, due to limited resources, Chesterfield Arts couldn’t continue to be involved in all of the events, programming, community projects and art education classes that it had been providing and had to move from the donated space that had been its headquarters. Its board of directors decided to suspend its operations while it evaluated the organization’s mission.
After reorganizing and assessing the future of the organization, the board adopted a revised mission focused solely on arts education for children and adults and rebranded itself with a new name ~ Art Unleashed.
In 2015, the organization moved into their new location at 13379 Olive Blvd. and began offering art classes last June.
Some remnants of the Chesterfield Arts continue.
Jenny Donaldson, the organization’s director of education and a resident of Chesterfield, said that, in 2012, Chesterfield Arts created the Kaleidoscope art program – which continues through Art Unleashed – to provide visual art classes for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“We are dedicated to having an inclusive environment, so these classes offer lower class sizes than normal – such as three students to one teacher – and provide more one-on-one instruction,” Donaldson said.
“These classes are geared to the abilities and interests of students who take part.”
But even standard classes have low student-to-teacher ratios, of one teacher for every 10 to 12 students.
Though Art Unleashed is new, it served nearly 200 school age children in summer camps and other programs, last summer.
“In the fall, we shift programming to have after-school classes for children but also adult classes during the day and evening,” Donaldson said. “We also serve people at local retirement centers.”
Many participants come from Chesterfield, with others from Ballwin, elsewhere in West County and even from St. Charles County.
“There aren’t a lot of arts organizations right here,” Donaldson said. “In school, children get maybe an hour a week spent on arts. We feel Chesterfield is a good location to reach people in West County and St. Charles County because people value arts education.”
She’s encouraging parents to sign up children early for upcoming summer camps. Art Unleashed also offers classes geared to home-schooled students.
Registration is open for several new adult one-night workshops such as a “Pressed Platters,” a pottery workshop, coming up on April 28 and May 5.
“Adults are so busy and often have a hard time committing to a six-week class,” Donaldson said.
“The one-night events are kind of a girls’ night out – we even have a lot of moms sign up with their daughters, though they’re not just for girls. People can even bring their own wine.”
Art Unleashed will be one of the local arts organizations providing senior citizen activities, at the end of April, for the Maturity and its Muse festival called “Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement.”
Donaldson said Art Unleashed classes for adults let people easily apply their learning at home.
“For instance, we do classes and workshops on things like arm knitting or felting or even doodling, which they do on their own with no expensive equipment needed,” Donaldson said.
“It’s just a nice, creative release.”
Art Unleashed works with various contracted instructors, and the group is dedicated to pairing the right instructor with the right age group or medium; artwork created often is presented to the public.
“We’ve taken students’ art work several times and hung it at our gallery,” Donaldson said.
“We’re working with the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, near Queeny Park, and have a children’s class called “Artful Animals.” Students’ work will be displayed at the museum, with viewing running from May 1 through July 17. The museum will be hosting a reception for the children’s families.”
Likewise, Marriott SpringHill Suites on Chesterfield Parkway East, in Chesterfield, will be displaying some students’ artwork in March, she said.
“This is a labor of love for me and others involved, like our supportive board of directors who make this happen,” Donaldson said.
For more information, contact the organization at 636.627.7735 or visit: ArtUnleashed.org. To attend a free, one-day trial class, call 314.628.1024 for a reservation.