Pensacola Museum of Art provides informal art program for all ages

By Payne Ray
Staff writer

The Pensacola Museum of Art provided the community with an Open Studio on Saturday, giving Pensacola residents an opportunity to develop and hone artistic skills with the help of a local artist.

The studio enabled individuals and groups of all sizes to practice using charcoal, chalk and pastels, mediums which aren’t all readily available or affordable outside of an art studio.

“The beauty of things like Open Studio is that they’re aimed towards people who have an interest in the arts, but maybe not a very strong technical background,” museum intern and UWF artist Alyssa Elliot said.

The studio’s hours were open for walk-ins and pre-registered participants, all of whom filtered in and out as time progressed.

The art studio offered different drawing media at each table, ranging from colored pencils to charcoal. (Photo by Payne Ray)

The mostly informal style of the studio made it an attractive oasis for anyone who was looking for alternatives to the bustle of the Mardi Gras parade outside.

It also saw large pre-registered groups seeking an authentic artistic experience for their family or organization.

The effort behind Open Studio comes after the museum noticed that Saturday art programs were popular, but that the children and young adults who made up the target audience were not the only ones interested.

According to Valerie Peacock, the museum’s education and volunteer coordinator, the museum did some research following inquiries from families and passersby about joining the youth art program.

“Visitors to the museum would walk by the Art Studio and families would often ask to join in the youth workshops,” Peacock said. “After the end of the semester, we researched our geographical area and realized there were many Saturday youth workshops available, but there were no Open Studios where all ages were welcome. We wanted to provide a program that offered an open atmosphere for all ages and abilities.

The Open Studio is part of an ongoing initiative which provides a new medium or method to be practiced and discussed each week.

This week’s method was charcoal and other difficult drawing media, but previous editions have covered printmaking and sculpting.

The class is taught by local artist Paige Kearley, and operates in a mostly freeform fashion in which participants may ask for help or an introduction to the material.

Chalk art from an Open Studio participant. (Photo by Payne Ray)

“When we first came up with the idea to host Open Studio, we knew we needed a facilitator who would cultivate and encourage a creative laboratory,” Peacock said. “Paige Kearley, who also teaches Afterschool Art Club and camps at the museum, was a perfect choice to facilitate Open Studio because of her fresh take on learning in a museum setting.”

The Pensacola Museum of Art created the studio series with the goal of connecting individuals and families to the museum.

The museum’s more accessible programs give Pensacola residents an opportunity to interact with museum culture in a way that many may not have before.

“We wish to provide a space for families with young children who are looking for fun and educational activities to do together,” Peacock said. “As well as for individuals who are looking for more ways to connect with exhibitions and our museum community.

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