Unleash Your Creativity at the Beach Art Center

By Suzanne Norman
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Beach Art Center Offers
Splendid Classes for All Ages

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NEA/Pinellas Recovers Grant Update

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The slight coolness of September stirs an energy in the air as the fall season arrives. The Beach Art Center provides visitors, artists, students and families with a friendly community escape to harness that energy. Whether it is a stroll in the gift shop to browse local artists’ handmade items or thoughts of a class or one-day adventure to learn art skills, the center offers many choices to inspire artists.

This wonderful art meeting place is centrally located in mid-Pinellas County on Indian Rocks Beach. Weekly classes at all skill levels started again in September. Classes are taught by award-winning, experienced artists. 

There are many art mediums to select from including watercolor, oil, acrylics, pastels, water media, abstract art and mixed media along with pottery and open studio time.

Artists can attend one or more classes and pay for classes they take. People appreciate this flexibility rather than buying 6 weeks of classes if they cannot commit to all dates. For weekly beginner or advanced classes, artists are provided with a list of materials and bring their own supplies. Instructors often have a few extras if needed. Click here to browse the calendar.

Watercolor Instructor Roberta Romeo works with artist Sandy Ruppel – photo by Suzanne Norman

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The two art gallery rooms provide light-filled studio space for 22-24 artists to express themselves. The large studio is used for the Exploring Watercolor Magic advanced class. At the advanced classes, students work on their own projects. The instructor demonstrates techniques, and circulates through the room to help each student individually. Art instructor Roberta Romeo guides students with color palettes, blending colors and brush tricks for application to build confidence in their skills.

When asked how the attendance increases in the fall/winter season, Andrea Harms, Operations/Marketing Manager says, “Basically, it doubles and in some cases it triples. So many weekly class students are retirement age and classes are during the day. Many are up north for part of the year and then come back. Even vacationing visitors from Canada come in the winter.”

Looking for an opportunity to grow and teach? At Beach Art Center, artists can advance their skills to reach their goals. Cheryl Yellowhawk is a new instructor who was previously an oil painting student. Her course is Oil Painting Step-by-Step. A practiced oil painter now, she also displays her work in the gallery.

Pottery classes taught by accomplished sculptors and potters, Joyce Scalzo and Karen VanVyve, are held in the clay gallery, with pottery wheel and kiln. The gallery also has open times for individual work on projects. During a recent visit, two potters were finishing a beautiful set of pasta bowls and clay items. Potter Jane Wrobel says “Once I complete this set, I’ll use them to share a pasta meal with my friends.”

Shelly Augsbury leads the Beach Art Center’s Creative Families Paint Along

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Activities for Families and More

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Thanks to active board members, volunteers and philanthropic sources, Beach Art Center operations support the cultural needs of the community. In 2022, the center received a Pinellas Recovers 2022 Grant, provided by Creative Pinellas through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts American Rescue Plan.

Linda Keene, Education Chair and board member, focuses on inspiring people in the community. She realizes that not everyone is interested in painting and pottery and has incorporated Limited Series classes and workshops this season that include learning ukulele, basic quilting, kickstart your abstracts, watercolor art journal, recycled bottle birds and others.

For those looking for an unusual fun day or night, the Limited Series, Art on the Rocks and Workshop classes offer varied experiences taught by award-winning artists. Parents may like the Creative Families Paint Along, taught by Shelly Augsbury, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, October 9. It is structured for children from 1st-6th grade levels.

Harms says, “Since our summer camp was so successful, a lot of the parents were asking for kids’ classes after school, weekend, evenings, or parents’ night out. We’re getting a schedule of that together. 

“The Creative Families Paint Along is where a parent or grandparent, will paint a toucan together with a child. We’re adding more of that class type, and also a class where the child can be dropped off and the parents can have a night out.”

Paint Your Pals with Deb Vest Art Class – courtesy of Beach Art Center

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An Art on the Rocks Experience

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Art on the Rocks (make it and take it for $38) is a favorite one-time event on Friday night and Saturday afternoon for those who want to create an item with friends or family. Sessions are open to all – no experience needed. 

These are the center’s most popular events, usually from 6-9 pm on a weeknight or 1-4 pm on a weekend. Participants can bring their own refreshments and snacks. Instructors teach unique projects. All materials are provided and participants leave with a finished product.

Friday Night Wine Down Paint Your Pals is a fun evening event scheduled for September 30. Instructor Deb Vest will pre-sketch canvases for you to paint your friends, embellishing them with sunglasses, hats and accessories to capture a lively moment, a delightful caricature.  Participants are encouraged to bring a few friends, wine or drinks. A class featuring a pelican is also coming this season.

A recent evening with friends for Shawn Dell Joyce’s Sea Turtle Sponge Painting started with snacks and drinks while people of all ages arrived. Shawn had pencil sketches of the turtle and setups for each participant in the spacious studio room. The casual atmosphere and Shawn’s easy teaching style provided a relaxed creative experience. Participants learned details on brushstrokes, mixing colors and sponge painting. Everyone enjoyed the pace. Shawn offered comments on each participant’s work and all applauded the multicolored turtles, each distinctive.

Imaginarium Art Show with Sculpture & Clay Art – photo by Suzanne Norman

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Holiday Happenings

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On Saturday, November 19 from 9 am– 3 pm, the center hosts an Arts and Crafts Fair, coinciding with the Indian Rocks Beach annual garage sale weekend. Tables are set up in both galleries and the center’s artists, clay potters and students sell their arts, crafts, paintings, jewelry and cards.

In November and December, the gallery features a Holiday Show and Sale. The gift shop is stocked full of arts and crafts from local artists. Art instructors plan special holiday sessions for artwork, ornament making and crafty gift decorating.

“The holiday show has our artist-specific pieces.  We encourage them to sell the piece and possibly choose pieces that are lower in price that would be gift items,” adds Harms.

Imaginarium Art Show Art – Melissa Miller Nece (Colored Pencils) and Lori Puterbaugh (Pastel) – photo by Suzanne Norman

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Gallery Shows

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The Imaginarium Open Media Art Show
, on display through October 28, features well-versed artists and new artists in varied mediums. Sculptural, pottery and clay works are displayed on pedestals. The gallery shows provide a great opportunity, empowering artists to show and sell their works.

According to Harms, “One of the things I really appreciate about our gallery is we have a combination of seasoned artists with brand new people. People who have finished their first piece of art and now have the ability to hang it in a gallery. That’s pretty exciting. The last show was full of brand-new artists. They were so happy to see their work on the wall. They had their pictures taken and invited their friends. I bet there’s not too many places that would happen.”

Plan a day soon at the Beach Art Center to unleash your fun-loving spirit to an art or craft project. For calendar dates, click here.
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Beach Art Center
1515 Bay Palm Blvd.

Indian Rocks Beach FL 33785

Potters Jane Wrobel and Debbie Nelson crafting clay works – photo by Suzanne Norman

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