Liz Glover Wilson is a person who sees the big picture. “This space is my canvas,” she says of the cozy environs of her recently launched Sunflower Art Studios at 120 Main Street in Gardiner, next door to the post office. “I have this vision to do a creative space where people can come, kids to adults, and just create. My pop-up space here last December was kind of my way to introduce the space. It was beautiful; we had more than 39 local artisans. And that was an affirmation to me that the community is ready for something like this. The artists are wanting, and needing, an outlet, and the community was excited to come in and shop and peruse, hang out and talk.”
The space will contain numerous creative endeavors under the overall umbrella of “Sunflower Art Studios.” The “creative kids” branch of the venture has just begun a series of after-school and weekend art classes offered through “be. studios.” There are more pop-up shops planned through the branch of the business called “community connect,” and adult art gatherings are in the works, like this weekend’s “Uncorked Creativity” on Sunday, March 6 from 2-4 p.m. at Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery, in which adults can partake of some wine tasting as they get a painting lesson.
Therapeutic art experiences are planned for the future, along with some couples’ DIY sessions, and Glover Wilson envisions yoga classes in the studios beginning this spring. Through the branch she calls “share creative,” she even rents out the rooms in Sunflower Art Studios by the day or hour (when not otherwise occupied) to artists who need a space to work temporarily. “I want to keep the community engaged,” she says.
It’s all going to be part of Glover Wilson’s ongoing effort to bring visibility to the arts in the Mid-Hudson region and generate opportunities to support a broad scope of creative activity. And despite the variety of endeavors foreseen for the space, it’s not going to be a free-for-all in which everything unfolds organically every which way; Glover Wilson is a professional event planner who is open to ideas but knows that behind every creative project is planning.
A Gardiner resident for eight years now, Glover Wilson became more broadly known to the local art scene last August when she inaugurated the Sunflower Art Festival, held on the grounds of Tuthilltown Spirits distillery in Gardiner. She says she’d love to host the festival again this year, with the help of some local community and business sponsorship. The festival was created as a loving tribute to her late sister, Esther Sanzo, a New York City police officer who loved protecting the people she served, especially kids. A mutual love of art and the beautiful fields of sunflowers along Route 299 every summer sparked the concept to honor the memory of a beloved sister with a Sunflower Art Festival that would inspire creativity and support local artists.
Glover Wilson will continue to run Elizabeth Rose Consulting, her business located next door to the Sunflower Art Studios that assists nonprofits with fundraising and event planning. But her considerable energies will be much in evidence at the new space, where she will teach some of the art classes, like the group of seven- to ten-year-olds who signed up for the first classes offered by be. studios in the space last Thursday. Several of the kids were dropped off directly in front of the building by the New Paltz Central School District buses, which will continue to make the stop there. The kids learned about creating collages in the inviting studio space sized for about eight to ten participants, the walls painted a soft blue. The sunlit room is equipped with all manner of enticing art materials waiting to be used, from easels and colorful paints to baskets of sea glass and bits of porcelain. It feels more like a creative playroom in someone’s home than a formal art studio, which probably contributed to the way the kids quickly settled in and made themselves comfortable.
There will be a different technique or skill introduced to the kids every week, with an element of mindfulness involved, where the art-making has an underlying depth to it. The collage-making lesson was couched in a discussion of recycling, and an upcoming class on making family trees will delve into what they mean and how a collective of family trees become a community. Glover Wilson was a relaxed and encouraging teacher with the kids, and she promises the same of her primary teacher, Andrea Stetson, who just happened to be out of town on this recent occasion.
Stetson is an experienced early childhood development professional with a genuine passion for kids, says Glover Wilson. Employed as a children’s librarian in Connecticut for more than 24 years, Stetson was also director of an early childhood program in which she developed a challenging curriculum and hired and trained the teachers, and she created and produced summer camps for both the library and the early childhood program.
Olivia “Liv” Treubig will also be involved with the program, as an advisor. She is a state-certified art teacher who grew up in the Hudson Valley and graduated from SUNY New Paltz. She earned a BA in interpersonal and intercultural communications, with a visual arts minor.
More information is available by calling (845) 419-5219 or visit www.sunflowerartstudios.community or www.bestudios.community (and that’s “dot-community” not “dot-com;” as they put it, “don’t forget the ‘unity.'”