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Classes for the crafty

Venues available for people to study, make art in

November 15, 2009
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

For people with an interest in the arts, there are more than a couple of places where they can pursue their creative ambitions.

Seniors interested in creating artwork can check out the art classes at The Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County.

Catherine Mueller, the executive director of the center in Gloversville, said art classes have been at the center for almost 30 years.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Erma Voorhees of Oppenheim works on a painting of echinacea flowers at the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County in Gloversville on Monday.

A paid instructor teaches the classes, which are conducted Monday morning and afternoon. The 18 students split between the two classes have varying skill levels, Mueller said, so what they work on may be very different.

"The work they do is amazing," she said.

Besides working on paintings, what some of the seniors get out of the course is a sense of companionship. She said that is part of the reason some of the class-goers travel from as far away as St. Johnsville and Dolgeville to attend.

Mueller said last year, due to the loss of state grant money, the class that was conducted Friday mornings had to be cut. Two ladies had taken the class together for almost 30 years. Mueller said they understood the financial issues, but were worried they would not be able to sit next to each other on Mondays like they had done on Fridays for almost three decades.

"There is no way they would sacrifice that relationship," she said.

Joel Chapin, professor of fine arts at FMCC, said art classes are open to more than just traditional art students. Anyone who is interested can audit a course, which means they will not get grades or credit for it. However, they will get to learn the same information as traditional students and get their work critiqued.

A wide variety of people take an interest in auditing art courses, Chapin said. Some are retired and looking to slowly get back into a hobby. Others are older people considering a new career path and want "a little kick in the butt" to get going, he said.

There also are the continuing education arts courses the school offers that cover the school's program, he said.

"Those are purely for fun and enrichment," he said.

Having adults in art courses, along with traditional students, can be a great experience for the younger artists, Chapin said. Not only does it provide an example to students of how it is never too late to get into art, it also shows them how valuable experience can be.

"Some older people are able to put their time into the work, while that can be difficult for 18-year olds trying to balance all of their social obligations for the first time," he said.

Matt Roth, the owner/instructor of the Roth School of Art in Johnstown, said he offers art classes divided up into age groups.

"KidZart" is offered for children ages 5 to 11. The program, which takes place after school hours, exposes children to painting, drawing sculpture and other artistic avenues, he said.

Roth said most teens who come to the studio want to build their portfolio for college. The "college prep. program" not only develops the students knowledge of art and work, he said, but they also take trips to art galleries and visit college campuses

Adults can take courses designed to develop their skills. Roth said that, as with all of the courses, what is taught is tailored to an individual's needs and abilities.

The adults who are interested in taking classes generally have always been interested in art as a hobby, and want to develop their skills further. For some, they want to be pushed to develop their skills more than others, he said.

Barbara Reffitt, president of the Sacandaga Valley?Arts Network, said among the many activities the group is involved in is regularly organizing art shows. Visiting artists will sometimes give classes, she said, and those have covered a variety of arts.

While most of the events have been conducted in the summer, the organization is trying to line up more for the fall and winter, Reffitt said.

Classes planned

People can look forward to art classes at the Fulton County YMCA in the near future.

Barb Palmateer, the aquatics director at the YMCA who also is helping put the art courses together, said classes are expected to start with the winter session in the first week of January.

Palmateer said she hopes the YMCA will be able to have art workshops, such as children's beading, before then. While the classes will run once or twice a week during the seven week session, the workshops will run just once or twice.

The classes are being planned in response to interest from members and non-members of the YMCA.

"It will be popular once we get going," she said.



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