Atelier 252: A community of artists

Atelier 252 artist Eileen Vernon painted this portrait of her husband, Don, as a Christmas present.

An art workshop in the attic. Well an atelier doesn’t have to be in an attic but I like to think of it that way. An atelier is an artist work group, where one teacher mingles among the artists and helps individuals with their paintings. Atelier 252 isn’t really an attic, but it is the sunny third floor room of the Bay Presbyterian Church (the 252 in the name comes  from the street number of the church).

What began some 20 years ago in the home studio of Virginia Cascarilla has evolved from a group of art students to a community of caring artists. Under Ginny’s mentorship and guidance, students have the opportunity to learn from her talents and expertise. Each Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. will find us there, usually 8 to 10 artists, painting landscapes and portraits in oil.

Ginny earned her BFA in painting and education and an MFA in painting and art history. She has taught at Cuyahoga Community College, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Michigan State University and painting workshops in Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

Lakewood artist Nancy Marie Spotts is the class administrator and one of the original art students. Nancy is the glue that keeps the community together. She sells her work regularly and is the art students’ best cheerleader. Her interest in both art and caring for people is evident and her signature tasty treats add smiles around the lunch table.

The community of painters is a diverse seasoned group of individuals who each bring positive perspectives and energy to the class. Student artists enjoy a third-story room with windows overlooking the lake and classical music playing to both relax and inspire great artwork. Artists enjoy the feeling of community as they engage in lively conversations over lunch to “solve the problems of the world.”

Ginny’s philosophies and perspectives on life are interesting and thought provoking. She talks about having a "conversation with the canvas as one's work evolves.” The medium of oil allows for change and fluidity, just as in life. We are ever changing, gaining new perspectives and then "taking a new picture in our mind,” so as to accept and adjust to one's own circumstances.

Ginny sprinkles her art lessons with anecdotes that relate to real life. Her profound and often times humorous comments have become affectionately known as Ginny-isms. She tells her students that “Art is just like people; we look at who they say they are, then we look at what they do and then we see if they’re truly genuine.” And, “See the shapes and the values in the artwork. Like life, you wouldn’t see the light without the day.”

Mondays with the community of artists of Atelier 252 gives breath and life to each artist as they discover, encourage and learn from one another to improve on their “works in progress.” Art students look forward to classes as they find satisfaction in realizing the creative energy they have within themselves. The class is about life and love and relationships. It brings out the best in mankind. Atelier 252 is a true art community where student artists work on values and design, both on canvas and in life. Class meets most Mondays. The charge is $100 for four workshops or $35 for one class; call Nancy Spotts, 440-341-3119, for information.

Through the month of July, the artists’ work is on exhibit at the Mandel School Art Gallery on the Case Western Reserve Campus. The gallery is open and free to the public.

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Volume 6, Issue 14, Posted 10:08 AM, 07.08.2014