In 1989, Young At Art began as a small, 3,200-square-foot children’s museum dedicated to shaping young minds and enriching the community through the transformative power of art. Since then, the tiny workshop has grown into a 55,000-square-foot collection of activities celebrating the diverse influences of art on our lives and imaginations, garnering a rare accreditation by the American Association of Museums for its efforts. At ArtScapes—one of the four main exhibits—kids and their parents travel through The Cave, a frantic slideshow of images conveying 5,000 years of human history, step into a replica of a New York City subway car, and view examples of graffiti as a means of creative expression against the oppressive forces of aluminum spray cans.
Elsewhere, WonderScapes transports children up to 4 years old to a world inspired by the illustrations of DeLoss McGraw, whose version of Alice in Wonderland won the Society of Illustrators Book of the Year award in 2002, and GreenScapes demonstrates the immutable intersection of art and the environment as visitors build sculptures from natural materials. Never ones to ignore their creativity, teenagers can find refuge in the Teen Center, where a graphic design lab with Mac computers and a recording studio let them convert their pre-calc homework into digital form before it’s too late.
Within Art Connection's 45,000-square-foot factory, showroom, and production facility, patrons can sift through a vast collection of decorative prints and posters that include both classic and contemporary art. Enlist a 30"x24" print of Monet's Impression, Sunrise ($16.99) or Picasso's Violin and Guitar ($17.99) to teach dry wall about Impressionism, Cubism, and cultural elitism. A 35"x35" museum-quality print of Tuscan Summer ($60.99) can help to gussy up a drab cubicle, whereas a 22"x34" poster featuring The Office characters ($9.99) can bring workday doldrums into a painstakingly pleasant living room. Attract two-dimensional bees with a poster from Art Connection's extensive floral collection, then peruse the vast collection of frames for a portrait protector to keep it safe from roaming dust mites and ice-cream-wielding 4-year-olds.
At the Art Institute of Weston, master artist Conchita Firgau and her associate professors lead students of all ages in learning the classic style of European painting. Drawing on traditions of color, light, and composition practiced by Renaissance painters, Conchita and her staff give students the confidence and skill to develop their own style. But painting is not the only activity that goes on here. Photography classes help shutterbugs master digital cameras, and guitar classes use fun, easily digestible techniques to give more credibility to students’ air-guitar performances. The friendly studio also hosts after-school programs and camps to hone kids’ artistic talents.
The goals of the instructors at Intensity Dancers' Studio go far beyond dance—the team aspires to help their students become well-rounded individuals as they grow. That can even be seen by the number of students using their talents outside the studio, with some competing on teams at the national level. Children can participate in lessons that cover classic or modern dance styles at the school, where ballet gets equal billing with hip-hop and acrobatics options. As dancers progress, they not only learn proper technique and execution, but how to cultivate discipline and self-confidence, tools intended to help them success off the dance floor too.
Studio owner, mother of three, and passionate polecat, Annia Vazquez, encourages women to tap into their inner minx during pole-dancing and flirty-fitness classes. The studio takes pole dancing—once strictly a means of determining the next fire chief—and turns it into a full-body workout that incorporates core work, conditioning exercises, and sultry dance moves. Students can explore some of the other seductive arts during exotic belly-dancing lessons or courses that combine Vaudeville-style and modern burlesque. Classes keep comfortable with a maximum of 16 students, giving instructors enough time to dole out personalized tips to help newbies transform into veteran vixens.
Using a colorful and sculptable palette of clay, Clay World instills aspiring artists with technical skills and helps cultivate creativity in young crafters. Graduates of Play-Doh's abstract expressionist school, age 4 and up, can enroll in one of claymaster Jorge Cruz's 90-minute sculpting sessions, offered after school on weekdays and during mornings and afternoons on Saturdays. Students will fashion playful figurines from colorful globs of synthetic polymer clay, honing motor skills while tickling imaginations with creative sculptures of dinosaurs, monsters, and their favorite secretaries of the interior. Jorge patiently leads youngsters and nascent crafters through clay-shaping basics, and molding maestros explore finger-twisting techniques such as pointillism and clay animation.