If a subject is art-related, chances are you can learn about it at Around the Corner Art Center. With a slate of teachers who specialize in working with specific age groups and art mediums, students can learn how to sketch or sew, hone their brush strokes, and construct mixed-media pieces. With all these disciplines under one roof, there is a class for everyone from children to college art students to adults. The staff's love of art even extends to the birthday parties they host, with artistic themes that may include recreating a famous painting or learning how to draw cartoons, anime, and manga.
The shelves at Color Me Mine’s studio teem with whimsical bisque-ceramic pieces—pony and princess figurines, piggy banks, and kitty-cat mugs—each stark white and waiting for the brush strokes of a budding artist. That artist might be a birthday boy at a party with up to 25 of his friends, or a grown-up unwinding at a girls' night out. No previous experience is required, as the studio staff dispenses plenty of painting tips, stencils, and artistic inspiration. Afterwards, the staff will fire the resulting pieces, which can then be used as décor or dinnerware thanks to Color Me Mine's lead-free, food-safe, paints. In addition to open painting and private parties, the studio hosts after-school enrichment programs, field trips, camps, or scout-troop events.
At Grape Beginnings, passionate wine aficionado Frank D’Aponte splits his time between producing his own high-quality vintages and instructing others on how to do the same. Frank has a decade of winemaking experience under his belt; as a third-generation winemaker, grape juice runs through his veins. Frank has deepened his knowledge with extensive travel throughout the Napa and Sonoma valleys, studying under master winemakers such as James Allen of Sequoia Grove Vineyards. Novice vintners delve into every aspect of the process, including pressing fresh grapes from California, Chile, Italy, and Argentina, racking in oak barrels, and bottling with custom-made labels.
To help sugar artists of all skill levels take their desserts to new heights, Francesca Elmenshawy, owner of Francesca’s Cakery, joined accomplished cake designer Silvina Barboza to teach intensive baking courses. Though their 10- to 12-student classes range from Baking 101 to an intensive course held in Spanish, most of the lesson plans fall somewhere in the middle. Fondant classes, for instance, introduce the versatile cake-decorating and sculpting medium to cake decorators who prefer their art to be edible. A three-part series on gum-paste flowers targets lessons to specific skill levels, teaching beginners the basics of rolling and cutting material for the dessert flowers. The hands-on, accessible classes earned a mention on Food Babbles, a blog whose writer described the teacher as "a gracious hostess."
It’s always nice to have talented friends. For more than 20 years, photographer Jeff Tureaud has been his friends’ go-to person for capturing special events, and his growing reputation led him to start his own studio in 2007. Since then, the award-winning photographer has accommodated clients with wedding coverage, on-location portraits, in-studio appointments, and outdoor shoots on his acre of gardens.
Jeff’s individual and group sessions yield upward of 50 images, which he retouches in Photoshop, previews for patrons, and dispenses as digital images all on the same day as the shoot. Proofs are stored in password-protected online galleries that customers can access and select desired prints from. In addition to capturing new memories, Jeff restores older ones with photo repairs, digitization services, and DVD slideshows that set up to 150 pictures to each customer’s favorite pop song or whale call.
In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.