Community Ed Is Where the Art Is
An architect brings decoupage sessions to her hometown, and morning art classes foster tight-knit groups.
It took periods of professional adversity for two local women to discover their love of teaching art to adults.
Tina Ottmar, a Fridley architect, began looking for something different to do when the recession put her industry in the doldrums. She hit on the idea of teaching art to senior citizens and within a year was leading "Artsy Smartsy" classes at 15 Twin Cities locations.
"I started teaching the seniors and discovered a passion of mine," said Ottmar, who is bringing her classes to her hometown for the first time in Fridley Community Education's winter session. In "Custom Calendars," a two-part class offered Jan. 20 and 27, she'll help students apply collage techniques in creating their own calendars for 2011.
Another Ottmar offering is her short course, also a two-parter, on Feb. 10 and 17, introducing the technique of decoupage. On the first evening, students will make their own paper, which then they use as material for decorating vases on the second night.
Kathy Buchanan, a Columbia Heights resident, was teaching art to children at a New Brighton charter school when it closed in 2005. Like Ottmar, she decided to try her hand at teaching adults and found that she loved it. But she didn't love going outside on dark winter evenings to lead night classes.
Fridley Community Education offered Buchanan a chance to teach during the day, and her morning classes in drawing and painting on Mondays and Thursdays have drawn together tight-knit groups of students. They sign up every session and even gather during the summer when her classes don't meet.
Both teachers say senior citizens form the largest contingent in their classes, though adults of any age are welcome. Buchanan's lessons have attracted students as young as middle-school age, while Ottmar says her oldest student is 106.
Collage and decoupage each allow people of differing abilities to participate, according to Ottmar—even those with vision impairment or limited flexibility in their hands.
Buchanan also preaches an all-inclusive approach to art. She's holding a free demonstration class in observational drawing at Fridley Community Center on Jan. 10 to attract people who might be shy about signing up for a full session.
"If you want to draw, you can draw," Buchanan said. "Everyone can do art."