The multiple YMCA locations in metropolitan Chattanooga serve more than 37,000 members a year and fulfill the mission of uniting guests regardless of gender, age, faith, background, abilities, or income. Founded in London in 1844, the YMCA spread to its Chattanooga home in 1871 and continues to operate with help from local community volunteers as stalwart as I Love Lucy syndicators. Each location caters to the needs of children, teens, seniors, and families with afterschool programs and fitness-based activities. Cardio machines pump hearts, racquetball courts host fun competitions, and pools allow goggles to fulfill their original purpose: snapping the face with their elastic band to make a diver jump off the blocks faster. A sauna and steam room heat clients up after they cool down in the pools, and parents can drop their young children off at the nursery before participating in group fitness classes.
Experienced photo gurus Doug Box and Randy Kerr impart practical photo skills to curious shutterbugs during engaging seminars that have appeared across the States and in eight countries abroad. Doug Box, author of myriad photography-technique books, is one of 13 Kodak mentors and is the Executive Director of the Texas Professional Photographers Association. His co-teacher, Randy Kerr, heads World Photographic, which uses photography as a vehicle for illuminating humanitarian and environmental topics. Both men have been teaching photography classes for years and help amateurs take photos that capture piercing looks, toothy smiles, and elusive dodo sightings.
ke a creative séance, Spirited Art helps painters of all skill levels and ages channel their inner Van Goghs during step-by-step art lessons that render colorful masterpieces. The instructors keep the environment fun and lighthearted as students pick up provided brushes, stand at their easels, and conjure their muses before laying out such compositions as Klimt's The Kiss, a still life with coffee cups, or a Monet-inspired landscape. Pupils can snack on treats brought from home as they add color to their canvas, and adults can bring wine to lubricate the flow of ideas. At the end of the lesson, each painter totes home a finished magnum opus to grace a mantel or cover up the results of practicing their javelin throw indoors.
The back wall at ArtsyU⎯marked by multiple hues sectioned into Mondrianesque blocks of color⎯is an expression of the vibrant ambiance that characterizes the studio. It pops with color, creating a welcoming environment for painters to experiment with their own designs. Visitors come to this artistically designed studio to unleash creativity, often bringing along a bottle of wine to aid in the process. Seated side-by-side on stools, they dip brushes into provided acrylic paints. With an instructor's guidance, they render images that range from a peacock fanning its tail to a flower holding perfectly still.
At The Artist Studio, a staff of three instructors knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the drawing table. Though they have 45 years of teaching experience between them, Christian Bradford, Claire Bradford, and Skip Lyons have also all spent years studying art and honing their own styles, such as photorealism, classic portraiture, and mixed media. The resident artists turn to their own individual expertise and personable approaches when teaching students, helping guide them toward their own artistic goals.
Brush Paint and Sip's instructors host relaxed painting sessions at homes, offices, and venues such as DeBarge Vineyards & Winery. With step-by-step instructions, they guide students—even absolute beginners—through the brushstrokes required to replicate famous paintings or create portraits of pets. Students can bring their own libations to classes held at Ovella's Mexican Café, buy wine by the bottle at Terra Nostra Tapas & Wine, or just paint a bottle of wine and whisper "wake up" to it until it comes to life.