At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
Three generations of the Hamilton family own and operate The Artist Within.org, a boutique studio that encourages artists of all ability levels to try their hands at painting in a communal environment. The studio provides all the necessary materials for recreating specific projects that include Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Bridge and over a Pond of Water Lilies, and it only requires that students bring their own wine, goodies, and Bob Ross wigs. In addition to public painting classes, the Hamiltons also host private events such as bachelorette and birthday parties and can create custom paintings for groups to reimagine.
A great painting is often defined by the subject, the medium, and the artist. Arbor House Gallery & Studio helps its students find their inner artists in the most relaxing way possible: during BYOB classes. Its evening acrylics classes help amateurs explore the medium by recreating stunning landscapes and florals. As they lift brush to canvas, students can sip on wine or beer and chat casually with their neighbors' palettes.
Arbor House Gallery & Studio also offers children's and non-BYOB classes in a variety of media including ceramics, acrylics, oils, recycled art, and pottery.
Over his 25-year career in snapshottery, Jimmy Loyd has accumulated an impressive list of skills as freelance photojournalist for the Houston Chronicle, portraitist, and studio owner. An early adapter to the digital-camera revolution, he can capture digital or analog family portraits, professional headshots, and in-the-moment sports images with ease. Loyd also employs his expertise in intermittently scheduled classes and photo tours, which might occur on-location at the Houston Zoo or, for more candid shots, out in the wilderness where animals don't have access to stylists.
Alfonso Ayala, who's been snapping photos for more than a decade and has professional graphic-design experience, loves to capture life's happiest moments, which is why he specializes in wedding and family photography. He also loves the technical aspect of photography and spends his free time experimenting with lights, equipment, and accessories, such as lens toupees, to figure out what steps he needs to take to capture the best image. Artful close-ups, classic portraits, and candid kisses pepper his portfolio, which represents a range of wedding vignettes.