When founders Victory and Richard Grund opened Old Town Art Studios in 2009, they had a vision: to provide positive art experiences for all people regardless of age, disability, or financial condition. Today, the nonprofit provides the Coachella Valley with an impressive array of art classes for children, adults, and seniors, open studio time, and family programs that encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to explore their creative sides.
The studio’s mission is grounded in its founders’ deep belief in the therapeutic properties of art. Co-founder Victory Grund has experienced this herself first-hand, after a personal tragedy lead her to her first clay studio. “We believe art is healing and has an everlasting positive impact on each of us and the world around us,” says Victory. This passion for the arts and the local community, as well as a noticeable lack of facilities in the area, lead the pair to begin the business.
The community has certainly responded warmly to their efforts. Since it opened its doors nearly ten years ago, Old Town Artisan Studios has relocated three times to accommodate the growing demand for their programs. It now calls a 16,000 square foot facility home, giving the studios plenty of space to offer its visitors a myriad of opportunities for artistic exploration. “99% of the time, when someone new comes through [the gates], the first words out of their mouth is, “Wow! I never expected this!” says Thomas Burns, Executive Director. “We never get tired of hearing that!” It currently offers private and group instruction in clay, fused glass, painting, drawing, and other forms of art.
Its many classes are a welcome presence in the La Quinta Community, whose residents may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore their creative side. “A big part of what we do here is to bring art back into the lives of the people around us,” says Burns. Children are especially vulnerable to this lack of artistic outlets. “With the defunding of art programs in schools the need is even greater.” Luckily for the children of LQ, the studio offers several kid-focused programs.
Its Discovering Clay class allows children to get their hands dirty, learning how to sculpt their own hand-crafted masterpieces. Of course, all materials are non-toxic and kid friendly! Once kids are ready for something a bit more challenging, they can move on to a Youth Introduction to Ceramics class. Here they’ll learn how to make functional and sculptural ceramic works using various techniques such as slab roller, pottery wheel, and hand-building as well as exploring high-fire glazing and surface decoration.
Youth Drawing is designed to inspire children’s imaginations. Your child will delight in studying still life, landscape, life drawing, and illustration. They’ll experiment with different drawing media, such as pen, pencil, charcoal, and ink, all provided in the cost of the course.
Adults have plenty of course options as well. A four-week Fused Glass course is an exciting treat, or discover the fine art of sculpting with clay in General Sculpture. Students explore sculpting techniques such as coil building, hand and soft slab construction, and extrusion. Figure Sculpture allows students to work with a figure model and learn techniques to portray the human body and facial features. Both of these courses include materials, firing costs, and two hours of weekly studio time designed to help students complete their works of art between classes.
Amongst its most popular family programs is the Paint-Your-Own-Pottery Studio, a walk-in program open to anyone. Choose a piece of bare pottery and transform it into a painted treasure. After it’s fired in the studio’s kiln, you can pick up your masterpiece in a mere 5 days. This program is especially popular for Mother’s and Father’s Day, when families come in to make gifts for their loved ones. After all, what’s better than receiving a handmade piece of art as a gift?
Whatever course you and your family may choose, one thing is for certain: Old Town Artisan Studios is an impressive nonprofit that lives up to its mission to enrich the lives of everyone who walks through its doors. Bring the whole family and cultivate your inner artist while spending quality time in its warm, welcoming environment. You will walk away with not only a work of art, but memories that will last a lifetime.