Monday, November 15, 2010

Asheville's best kept secret

I recently had the opportunity to write about two very special women for Verve Magazine who, it turns out, have a lot in common. Around the age of 60 each underwent a profound creative transformation, and both have launched new creative careers as a result. The catalyst: community art classes.

Silvia Sabaini as photographed by Anthony Bellemare courtesy of Verve Magazine

At the age of 64 Silvia Sabaini took her first ceramics class from a community center in Waynesville, NC. "It was six classes for $60," she says, "How could I go wrong?" Two years later Sabaini is renting studio space at Odyssey Clay Center and she currently is exhibiting her ceramic busts at The Jonas Gerard Gallery in the River Arts District.
Read the full story:
Having her Way with Clay: Verve Magazine, November 2010

Valerie Hoh as photographed by Matt Rose courtesy of Verve Magazine

Similarly, Kenilworth designer, Valerie Hoh decided at the age of 58 that she wanted to start a fashion line. She began taking sewing classes, computer classes and business classes at A-B Tech Community College. Two years later, with her new set of skills she held her first trunk sale. Today she sells her one-of-a-kind purses, scarves and dresses in North Carolina, Hong Kong and Florida.
Read the full story:
Hoh Down: Verve Magazine, November 2010

Valerie raved to me in our interview: "The continuing education program at A-B Tech is the best kept secret in Asheville!" She added that she wished it wasn't such a secret and that everyone knew about it and took advantage of it. "The teachers are so good, and it is so cheap," she told me. "I just kept taking all the classes I could possibly take for two years - all the sewing classes, and I learned Photoshop and Illustrator and I took a business class."

Okay, I'll go ahead and admit it -- I teach continuing education painting and design classes at A-B Tech, so this post is biased. It's not biased in the way that I'll get paid more if more people take classes (I won't.) Rather, I can attest firsthand that I have seen some amazing transformations from students.

Many incredibly talented people come through that might just need a boast of confidence and some constructive criticism. Some students just need extra space to create; many have kids and don't have enough room in their homes. Some students just want a fun social activity that will get them out of the house for a few hours. Some students are professional artists that are looking for new creative outlets. Sometimes couples enroll in classes together, and many like Silvia and Valerie are looking to recreate their lives.

All kinds of classes are offered through A-B Tech's continuing education program such as drawing, furniture restoration, cooking, yoga, computer skills, ceramics, crotcheting, stained class, drawing, and car repair. There are even classes on how to invest money in the stock market!

Check the full continuing education schedule at the A-B Tech website:
At rates this affordable ($55 for 24 hours of painting, for example) you really can't go wrong. You just might create a brand new life for yourself.

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