NEA/Pinellas Recovers Grant Update
Drive across the Belleair Causeway bridge with its bright view of the Gulf, turn left on Gulf Boulevard and meander south a few blocks to Indian Rocks Beach and the Beach Art Center. That’s where you’ll find summertime adventures ideal for kids who dream of crafty, artsy fun. Parents know that nurturing a child’s creative spirit is good for the soul, as they were once young dreamers.
The Beach Art Center is a wonderful place to learn art, clay and craft skills from multi-talented instructors. From mastering fine art to exploring fun art, the relaxed setting includes family-friendly options such as kids summer camps. For adults, one-time classes known as Art on the Rocks (make it and take it home), are planned on nights and weekends.
The Beach Art Center was the recipient of a Pinellas Recovers 2022 Arts and Culture Grant provided by Creative Pinellas through a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts American Rescue Plan.
The nonprofit recently held its annual fund-raising event, a “Boots & Brushes Country Gala” with a live band and art events outdoors in front of the center. Thanks to coordination with the City of Indian Rocks Beach and generous sponsors, it highlighted the Center’s offerings.
When asked about the event, Andrea Harms, Operations/Marketing Manager says “The idea is, of course, to raise money for our art center but also to get people from our community to just come and have a fun night out. It was a success like it was last year. We had a lot of really great sponsors from the community that made all the difference. “
Art displays in the Gallery change every few months. The Poetry in Motion show started in April. Artwork by members and non-members will be judged with awards presented at an April reception. By the entrance, the center’s Local Artists Gift Shop showcases handmade items available for purchase.
Creative Kids Camp
As regular art classes pause for the summer, the Creative Kids Camp begins. The art center has local sponsors who help with art supplies for the camps. Enroll soon as space is limited.
Several popular classes from last year are returning with a lot of fun activities. Memories are made from days like these.
The children monopolize all the art studios during the months of June and July. At the end of the camp session, their work is exhibited in the Gallery and shared with family members during the closing receptions.
Fourteen camp sessions are for children entering first through sixth grade and run for 7 weeks from June 5 through July 28, Monday through Friday 9 am to 1 pm. Each week has different art sessions in painting, pottery, mixed media, claymation, drawing and more.
A limited number of scholarships are available through Creative Pinellas funding. You can find the details here.
Kids who lean into drawing will love People and Animal Portraits, taught by Deborah Barnard. She taught kids’ camp last year and is a watercolor instructor at the Art Center. Barnard encourages kids to bring photos of themselves, family members or pets for inspiration.
She also teaches Legends of the Sea, with craft creations of treasure boxes, treasure maps, pirate stories and mermaid tales. Another one of her classes is the Amazing Nature and Backyard Fantasy, where campers make popup keepsake books.
The fascinating Claymation – Lights, Camera, Action experience is back this summer. Campers will build clay characters, paper and cardboard sets and film an animation video with stop-action photography. Instructor Deb Vest, known for caricatures locally, is a retired teacher from Pinellas County Schools and taught art education in San Diego. She also teaches Dig into Print Making for silkscreen and print stamping art playbooks.
Clay and Basket Fusion is a hands-on session where campers form a fired clay/ceramic pot and learn weaving and acrylics painting techniques. Instructor Karen VanVyve enjoys teaching art to share the joy that personal expressions of art bring to her students.
Jiggly Jellyfish is another camp she offers where campers create a ceramic jellyfish and mixed media undersea paintings.
Learn the Art of Decoupage is a class that involves gluing and making decoupage seashells, cookie plates, Christmas ornaments, photo cubes and more. Instructor Melissa Dotson is a Project Manager by trade, art and craft maker at heart, and works in various mediums. Dotson also offers Holly Jolly July where campers use skills to craft snow people, ornaments, stocking stuffers and snow globes into special keepsakes.
The Exploring Styles of Art class teaches campers the use of varied materials to fashion a wave with dashes of color, a turtle made using dots, and a landscape using crumpled foil. Instructor Cindy Wilhoite was a K-12 art teacher in Maryland for 27 years before moving to Largo.
Wilhoite also teaches two more sessions. Animals, Animals, Animals is where campers create turtles, dragons, butterflies and more using paints, mixed media and other materials. Crafts for Fun is a cool experience in weaving yarn, fabric and tie dying for beautiful yard ornaments.
All camps are structured to delight youngsters and provide a rewarding opportunity to build confidence in art techniques. The use of imagination is a vital form of education and growth.
Summer Sessions for Art on the Rocks
Art on the Rocks (make it and take it) is a favorite one-time event on Wednesday and Friday nights or Saturday afternoon or evening for those who want to create an item with friends or family. Sessions are open to all – no experience needed.
These popular arts and crafts classes are usually from 6- 9 pm in the evening, or 1-4 pm on a weekend. Participants can bring their own refreshments and snacks.
All Instructors are experienced artists with unique ideas and specialties. Materials are provided and participants leave with a finished product, except clay items which are fired and ready for pickup a few days later.
Looking for a gift or entertainment for a pre-teen or teen? Art on the Rocks is the answer. Well-known instructors are back this summer with Colorful Pet Portrait, Florida Highwaymen Painting, Mandala on Coffee Mug, Decoupage Plates, Rustic Wood Beach Signs or Day at the Beach Acrylic Painting.
There are more choices, updated frequently on the Beach Art Center website. Groups are small and fill up fast.
When asked how things have progressed in the past two years, Harms replies, “Our classes are in full swing. We had a really good year with our classes. I think if anything, we’ve probably grown since COVID. We have three new board new members that were voted in recently. They have a lot of fresh, fun ideas.
“I’m pretty enthusiastic about our future here. We’ve got some good ideas for more kids programming coming up and changing things up a little bit with some of our other classes – even our gallery shows. We’ll see what the future holds for us, but it looks good.”
You can sign up for summer fun at the Beach Art Center and capture a lasting memory.
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Beach Art Center
1515 Bay Palm Blvd.
Indian Rocks Beach FL 33785