Dirk Dahl discovered the joy of ceramics in high school when his artistic nature immediately took to the elegant accidents and random, dramatic shapes even a beginner could coax from clay. Ceramics became the bread and butter of his long artistic career, but—like many artists—he found his studio confining, and sought a way to interact with more people. That's when he decided to start teaching, an exercise that compelled him to create Dahl Arts Ceramic Studio as a way to introduce people to his beloved ceramic arts.
"Every time I teach a class or workshop, I learn something," remarks Dirk. Watching his students experiment for the first time or hundredth time in one of his many classes or workshops inspires the sculptor to experiment in his own work, from sculpting faces into pottery to reassembling the broken shards of old pieces into Frankenstein's flatware. The results have landed his work in international juried and invitation exhibitions and even allowed him to open his own personal gallery in Santa Monica, California.
Since 1995, Best in Class Education Center's instructors have aided students of all ages—from pre-K tots to high school seniors—in their academic journeys. They calibrate small-group and private math and English lessons that push each student at an individualized pace, helping struggling students catch up to speed or edifying advanced pupils seeking more of a challenge. The tutors give homework assignments for the kids to work on throughout the week, as well as administer weekly tests to assess their progress.
In addition to boosting success in current classes, the staff helps older students ready themselves for post-secondary schooling with SAT prep classes and college admission workshops, which help applicants decide on the right place, craft an impressive personal statement, and shimmy into their dream school's mascot costume before campus visits.
With 18,000 square feet of boarding facilities and 10 park-like spaces for pups to romp in, the Academy of Canine Behavior is a true pet-care destination. Dogs bunk down with the staff of trainers and behaviorists for the signature five-week Board and Train program, during which they learn proper manners, such as how to share toys, greet guests, and do their own taxes. Both boarding and daycare guests frolic in indoor or outdoor dog runs during the day, and cats can daydream about enemy birds in their own exclusive area. Owners can also schedule sessions with the on-site groomer, who has experience with hard-to-handle animals, especially those who insist on doing their own makeup.
While the beauty professionals at Nu Aura Medical Spa concede that they cannot stop aging altogether, they perform aesthetic services that counter and abate its effects. A squad of doctors, physician's assistants, and licensed aestheticians wields ultramodern technology wands as it neutralizes spider veins, ousts unwanted hair, and smoothes the face. The specialists customize each treatment to the client, and bilingual staff members can consult with them in both English and Spanish.
Carolina Smoke's pitmasters release bold, succulent taste bursts with a slow-smoked menu of down-home eats. All meats are hand-rubbed and eye-watched, never pre-cloaked in flavor-smothering sauces or frowny-face masks. Sink teeth into the tender beef-brisket sandwich ($10) or delve deep into the flavor furnace with a prime rib ($21). Diners can further slake smoky cravings with a half or full rack of baby-back ribs ($14, $22) or feed famished fingers a gratifying grip of hot wings ($10). The restaurant's policy of allowing eaters to add their own sauce permits patrons to customize flavoring and ink unique impressions on napkin and facial canvases. Behind the eatery's shingled sides and white shutters, dining-room guests can bookend bites with sips of Carolina sweet tea.
At the helm of Cultivating Vitality Acupuncture and Herbs sits Spring Cheng, an expert in both Western and Eastern medicine. A PhD in molecular biology, Cheng grew dissatisfied with modern medicinal approaches to healing in her biomedical career. She decided to return to her roots and follow in the footsteps of her grandfathers, who both practiced Chinese medicine. Now, the licensed acupuncturist combines her scientific and holistic-healing knowledge to treat a variety of maladies. Using techniques such as acupressure, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and tui na massage, she works to assuage conditions such as allergies, addiction, insomnia, and headaches, altering her treatments on an individual basis.