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Around The Arts

September 4, 2010

Around the Arts: Area offers many opportunities to take a hands-on approach to art

Summer, which is widely recognized as the most relaxing time of year, can actually be extremely busy _ whether at work, traveling or keeping up with family. But, this fall, take the opportunity to do something for yourself. There is an abundance of hands-on learning opportunities offered by area art galleries and colleges.

On a search for a gift this summer, I walked into Studio 52 on Pioneer Street in Cooperstown, a new venue that carries custom jewelry. Owner and artist Dory Dawson hosts beading classes for groups or individuals. I discovered 1) a potential new hobby for the winter and 2) a way to create some holiday gifts. The studio has a great counter area designed specifically for creating jewelry. She invites those who are interested to join her at the counter to create their own works of art. For a small fee she provides some materials and her expertise. You can visit to arrange a time to create jewelry. I hope to join Studio 52 this fall to learn a new craft.

After stumbling upon this opportunity I began exploring, and I discovered there are many ways to turn art into a fall and winter hobby. Right across the street from Studio 52 is the Smithy-Pioneer Art Gallery. This fall, in addition to its well-known pottery classes, they will offer a knitting class (Saturdays beginning Sept. 25), a cake-decorating workshop (Nov. 6, 13 and 20) and a bread-baking workshop (Oct. 22, 23 and 24), among many others. On Sept. 9, The Smithy will host an African Music Concert and Drumming Workshop. Children and adults can try their hand at drumming (pardon the pun) from Malian master percussionist Baye Kouyate. The Smithy is also offering several acting and performance classes for children and adults.

On U.S. Route 20 in Sharon Springs I found Chartwell Studios, where drawing, marblizing and furniture painting classes will be held. The marbleizing classes teach the art of creating faux finishes — a handy skill to have, particularly for do-it-yourselfers. You can call (518) 284-2646 for more information on these classes.

The Studio for Art and Craft in Cobleskill also offers many creative classes, including those in jewelry-making, pottery, stained glass, fused glass, metalsmithing and more. I love that many area organizations offer their classes at varying times to make attending convenient for many schedules. For example, every other Saturday afternoon, The Studio for Art and Craft offers a $5 "make n' take class, so students can explore a new art form. Check for more information.

The State University College at Oneonta has a large continuing education program, with many opportunities for creating works of art. The college is offering a creative writing workshop (Tuesdays beginning Oct. 5), The Art of Cake Decorating, (Sept. 21 for beginners) The Art of Bow Making (Nov. 15) and The Art of Sushi Making (Nov. 11). Call 436-2548 for more information. There is tuition for many of these workshops, but you generally leave with a piece of artwork or more.

If you feel like you can't accommodate the current class schedule at your local art center, make a recommendation for a new time that might work for you and others in a similar situation.

Or you can visit your local craft store for materials and pick up a book at your library to create something on your own.

What is the one creative outlet you always wished you had explored? This fall, take the time to make it happen.

Brittany Lesavoy is secretary of ArtsOtsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and director of public relations for Glimmerglass Opera. Column ideas may be sent to

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