by Leslie Harlib | January 21-27, 2009
- Art classes flourish on Grant Avenue. Novato School teaches arts and crafts.
- Kebby McInroy, 42, was the fine arts equivalent of a wandering troubadour for nine years. Through her business call Studio4Art, the Corte Madera resident travelled around Marin teaching arts such as painting, drawing, and sculpture in people's homes as well as schools.
Now she's gone the bricks and mortar route. In Spetember 2008, McInroy founded Studio4Art at 1133 Grant Ave. in Novato.
There, she teaches everyone from two-year-olds on up a wide range of arts that encompasses all she's known for, plus sewing, pottery, mosaics and more.
"Though I worked in different recreation centers and through different school districts, I felt I wasn't reaching as many kids as I actually wanted to do," explained McInroy. "I felt the next step should be opening a studio."
The space feels like the ultimate arts and crafts camp coupled with retail. It's filled with light from two big windows in the front. There are four potters' wheels and four sewing machines. Canvas-covered tables are smeared with so much color from a multitude of projects, they look like abstract paintings in the works.
Folded easels wait for canvases in another part of the room. A large mirror, one student's creation, is ringed by a pretty mosaic made of broken blue and white teacups. Wooden display hutches hold products for sale: drawing sets, greeting cards, pottery bowls, books about art, and fabric wine-bottle holders crafted by Sausalito designer and seamstress Carla Pollard.
McInroy found that since she's opened her doors, the community has come calling. Whether it's the down-turned economy and people need something to do to cheer themselves up, or whether people want more out of their free time than computer or television experiences, she's been surprised by the positive response.
"People have been very helpful and welcoming," she said. "This community has a very small-town feel. People really seem to enjoy the arts. Everyone who's seen us and heard about us has said they were waiting for something like this."
According to McInroy, while classes aren't full, at the same time "they're definitely growing. With a new business, I figure that's the next step. Drop-ins are very popular, too."
Hands-on art is enjoying a renaissance in this high-tech age because, as McInroy puts it, "They teach creative thinking:going outside the box in today's world. The arts help kids come to a conclusion about things that maybe somebody else hasn't thought of before. Art also gives them a voice, which I think, right now, is really important to a child."
Blake Carlile, age 8, agrees. With his twin brother Miles, the Novato resident and student at the Novato Charter School takes a number of classes at Studio4Art.
"It's pretty fun," he said. "You get to make some pretty cool sculptures. You can make bowls and frogs. You get to do anything with art. You can even paint, getting textures with a palette knife. At school, we just do knitting, not that much art classes. This place gives me a chance to try a lot of things.
Carlile's mom, Sally, also takes classes at Studio4Art. The family tries to go every other week, she said; the down-turned economy makes affording extras challenging, but the arts are worth it.
"As a parent, I feel good about spending money here with Kebby, because of how she is with art," Sally Carlile said. "She doesn't tell people what to do. She asks a lot of questions. So what comes out in the kids' art work is their own, not what the teacher tells them what to do."
Classes at Studio4Art can last anywhere from one to three hours. Sunday drop-ins between noon and 4 p.m. are generally $18 for the first hour (which includes supplies); $10 for each additional hour.
McInroy is also launching pajama parties on the third Friday of every month, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. They cost $30 and are aimed at kids ages 5 through 11. The next one is Friday, Jan. 23.
"I'm trying to do things to promote business," she said. "I'm hoping the pajama parties will give parents the opportunity to leave their kids here and go out to restaurants on the strip. It's one way for me to promote different things in Novato."
Studio 4 Art also offers adult-only classes on Thursday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. with wine and cheese. "These definitely attract both men and women," said McInroy. "It's a chance for us to create together."
For more information about Studio4Art, call 596-5546 or go to www.studio4art.net
- [Originally printed in the Novato Advance, January 21, 2009]