Sharon Owens lowers the bulb of an ornament into the sharp blue flame of her workstation’s torch, heating the glass until it glows a vibrant yellow. Applying the skills she learned in her schooling at Purdue University, her three-year apprenticeship, and her studies with a host of artisan glassworkers, she presses her mouth to the piece’s hollow stem. Whatever shape it will take, only she knows.
This scene has been a regular occurrence at Inspired Fire since 2002, when Sharon founded her studio in her hometown of Lafayette. The workshop is equipped for all manners of projects, including 4 kilns, 12 torches, and, most importantly, air conditioning. The shop’s staff oversees classes for beginners and advanced glassworkers, as well as offering the space for crafters unable to find the “glass” setting on their microwaves.
At Lala Gallery & Studio, creative types collide, from local artists displaying and discussing their newest exhibits to kids and parents bonding over the clay wheel. Studio classes include afterschool programs for grades 1–12, adult classes geared toward clay throwing, and drop-in sessions for one-off lessons. Inside the gallery, work from regional artists dresses the walls, which inspires visitors’ art projects and gives people something to look at other than the backs of their weird, veiny hands.
Crestwoods Frame Shop and Gallery protects clients' cherished paintings and possessions and displays work from celebrated local and regional artists. The studio boasts more than 2,500 types of frames, paired with acid-free archival materials and UV glass to reduce fading. The staff also restores old photographs and provides crisp, professional digital printing services.
More than 50 years old and 8,500 members strong, the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) strives to promote percussion through education, research, and performances across the world. To carry out this mission, the organization includes more than 50 chapters in the US and 28 chapters abroad, all of which communicate online via resources such as lessons, free practice exercises, and annual events. Each year PAS hosts the annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention—the largest of its kind in the world—in which exhibitors convene to showcase the newest developments in percussion technology, instruments, and publications. The convention also includes over 120 clinics and performances with lauded artists covering all genres and styles of music.
The staff at Art of the Soul encourages an inner examination of the self through artistic expression. Creative Spirit classes grant students three hours of freedom to delve into the process of creating art without the constraints of a specified media and models that refuse to pose in fruit baskets. During each course, artists adorn surfaces such as canvas, fiber, and metal work with eco-friendly materials to visually interpret the workings of the subconscious, and Picassos can take home their finished masterpiece after class. The program’s only goal is to inspire personal expression and build upon a love of art and a penchant for wearing smocks.
Urban Element assembles scrumptious café fare while surrounding guests in an inviting wine bar atmosphere replete with art-adorned walls and live music. The menu abounds with fairly healthy fare, including homade roasted red-pepper hummus ($8) and grilled-pineapple-and-shrimp salad ($10). Patrons can coordinate outfits to match the blue cheese pasta with chickpeas ($10+) or sample a curried chicken-salad sandwich or wrap ($7). The prevalence of paintings at Urban Element allows guests to appreciate local art without the need to pay admission or ship themselves inside cardboard boxes to fancy museums.