The less-than-year-old “Art in the Garden Studio” is hosting a grand opening of its new art gallery this weekend.
The free event – 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the gallery, 4221 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee – is this year’s first exhibition hosted by owners Dale Lewis and his wife Beverly Yantorno, who opened the business last March.
Food and mock cocktails will be served and artists at the juried show will be on hand to talk about their work. Some artworks will be for sale.
“I think this is going to be a good thing for the community. Right now, you have to travel elsewhere to view art in a gallery, and we have so many artists in Ahwatukee and the East Valley that need and deserve a place to show their work,” said Yantorno, who is the weekday on-site proprietor as her husband is employed elsewhere.
The in-house gallery exhibits are displayed for six weeks, with two weeks closure between shows.
“We already have artists signing up for the second show,” she said.
Art in the Garden Studio also holds workshops for area artists wishing to connect with other artists on a weekly basis.
Beginning Feb. 4, each Tuesday and Thursday morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., artists can bring in current projects to share with fellow artists. Art in the Garden will have instructors on hand to advise.
“Artists from throughout the Valley want to come and paint and they want the encouragement and camaraderie of other artists, and a teacher on hand if they get stuck,” Yantorno explained.
Crafting their business to best fit their new community, the Colorado transplants are constantly making adjustments.
Yantorno said in their eight months in business, the couple has updated their business plan four times.
A December move to open the Art in the Garden Studio on Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 p.m. is being continued due to the positive response.
Besides allowing Sunday sales of their artist’s handcrafted retail items, like handmade and chemical-free boutique soaps, the two hours allow area artists a time and “safe space” to work on their art.
“We have open painting only, there are no instructors and there’s no charge,” said Yantorno as she looked out the studio’s floor to ceiling windows with a view of the Zen garden she and Lewis created out of the formerly overgrown scrub desert-scape.
“We supply easels and jars for water; artists can bring their own supplies.”
Another addition to Art in the Garden’s growing roster of various classes is the Self-Care Series.
The twice-monthly launch Monday, Feb. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Classes will be held Monday nights with the second session scheduled for Feb. 17. Lewis said that due to space limitations, pre-registration is important and can be done online.
The inaugural Feb. 3 class features certified meditation teacher Sandi Wilson leading, “Meditation on Intention.”
Kelly Megyese from the Ahwatukee-based “Illuminate You Fitness,” will discuss the importance of exercise and the low-impact barre workout.
The Feb. 17 Self-Care series will again begin with Wilson hosting a ‘Meditation on Mindfulness’ followed by information on breast health moderated by Ahwatukee resident, Lisa Liddy.
Yantorno explained she and Lewis decided to sponsor these Self-Care classes “because these days, everybody’s stressed.
“I don’t care if you have a job or are retired, there’s a lot of stress in our lives. And yet, these classes aren’t just about stress. I think people are being more mindful of how they live their lives.”
She said she became familiar with Wilson’s meditation classes while commuting from Denver to Ahwatukee after the couple’s move.
“Sandi changed my life. My mother was in Hospice in Denver and I was traveling back and forth with a lot of stress and anxiety. She gave me the tools to handle the stress and sleeplessness,” recalled Yantorno.
Art in the Garden Studio opened last March and Yantorno said it is still being discovered by many Ahwatukee residents.
“I still have people tell me, ‘I had no idea you were here.’ We’re still having a hard time but my goal is for Art in the Garden to be the gathering place for the community, so we’re working on these different ideas to get more people in,” she said.
“I’ve always been very community-oriented, and as an Ahwatukee resident now, this is the community I hope to get involved more in and with art.”
Art in the Garden has a list of classes at ArtintheGardenStudio.com.
The studio is as diverse as each artist, and there are myriad opportunities for groups as well as individuals.
Classes range from instruction in watercolor and acrylic painting and colored pencil drawing to making natural cleaning products such as toilet fizz and scouring powder and chemical-free laundry detergent.
“People don’t have to be an artist,” Yantoro said. “We have great instructors to show them, and no one’s going to critique your work. There’s no pressure here to be award-winning artists. If you want to learn to be, that’s great, we’ll help you, but we want people to come, relax and be creative,” said Lewis. “And be happy.”
“We want people to come and really enjoy art, to appreciate art,” agreed Yantorno.
Art classes are also available to children, and Art in the Garden Studio hosts private parties for children seven and up and adults, and corporate team building parties.