Uptown studio to fill art education gap

Rachel Myers, who owns StudioUs, which will offer art classes for ages 4 and up at 4806 N. Clark St., said she wants to bring art instruction back to basics.

By Jonathon Sadowski

Toddlers and grade schoolers will soon join Uptown’s art scene with the opening of a new art studio that offers weekly classes to a wide range of age groups. 

StudioUs, 4806 N. Clark St., a school and gallery combo, is scheduled to open Dec. 15 and will offer year-round art classes for children ages 4 and up.  Classes will cover various media such as watercolor, pastels and acrylic paints and will be divided into three age groups: 4–6, 7–12 and 13 and above.

Owner Rachel Myers, who started teaching art in Seattle in 2008, said StudioUs takes a “holistic” approach to art instruction. She added that she was inspired to create StudioUs because she wanted to improve on her old location’s teaching methods.

“We want to go beyond traditional art classes where you sit down, make your art piece and that’s it,” Myers said. “We want to get students to get to the point where they can learn to draw on their own.”

Uptown’s art scene has few initiatives—some murals from artists including Hebru Brantley and Matthew Hoffman—and three art studios, not including StudioUs. Compared to surrounding communities such as Andersonville and Ravenswood, which have popular arts festivals and many studios and galleries, the Uptown art scene is “anemic” and lacks a diverse lineup of artists, according to Jeffrey Littleton, an Uptown-based artist.

“If I was an artist moving to Chicago, I wouldn’t move to Uptown,” Littleton said but added that the creation of StudioUs is a positive step.

Martin Sorge, executive director of Uptown United, a community organization that promotes economic growth in the neighborhood, said StudioUs has a market because of other successful child-focused art centers such as LILLSTREET Art Center and Old Town School of Folk Music. He added that the market has expanded in recent years due to schools cutting art programs.

“[StudioUs] is just one more addition to that already rich history of arts in the neighborhood,” Sorge said.

Because StudioUs is located right on the edge of Uptown and Andersonville, it has a chance to dip into the Andersonville arts market, which Myers said initially drew StudioUs to the area.

“Just looking at demographics, there are a lot of children in that area,” Myers said. 

Between Andersonville and Uptown’s 99,317 households, 12,729 have children, according to 2014 data from market analysis firm Onboard Informatics.

Myers said she hopes StudioUs, which will have small class sizes of six students per instructor, will help focus on art instruction for the sake of art instead of attempting to relate it to other subjects such as math.

“[Art education] doesn’t have to have all these other side effects or correlations to other types of learning,” Myers said. “People enjoy making art; people enjoy looking at art. It’s such an important component of so much of what we do.”