At the start of the 2021-22 school year, art will be abundant at Crothersville Community Schools.
Thanks to the efforts of school board member Tiffany Reynolds, art will be making a comeback after a nearly four-year absence.
Reynolds also helped Zoey Prince receive a grant to start an art studio in town, and after operating in a space upstairs at Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor, The Happy Tree Art Studio is now housed in a classroom at the school.
“I’m so excited this move has happened,” Reynolds said. “It was my dream to help bring art back to our students, and it is slowly starting to come full circle.”
The $5,000 grant from the Indiana Arts Commission received in 2020 has been a huge impact in making that happen, she said.
“But none of this could have been possible without Kyle McIntosh,” she said of the tattoo parlor owner. “He so graciously opened up his business to allow us to have a space to make it all begin. It is nice to see a member of our community stepping up to create change for our kids.”
Reynolds and Prince also are very thankful for all of the volunteers who have helped with the project.
“It is truly a group effort, and we have all created something to be very proud of,” Reynolds said.
Soon, they should learn if they will receive another $5,000 grant to put toward supplies and other needs along with compensating instructors.
The first art classes in the new location were June 9 and 12 with Melissa Bean of Louisville, Kentucky, and she returned Wednesday to lead a creativity workshop. The other class this month is from 3 to 5 p.m. June 23.
The plan is to continue to have at least four classes per month year-round.
“Moving forward, I want to get a lot more different types of art in there, like more than you could think,” Prince, 13, said. “Maybe a couple more classes here and there but just to make (students) have fun and for them to have a place they can go that’s safe and they feel like they can express themselves through art.”
Since the community-based art studio started, there have been classes in drawing/sketching, watercolor, acrylic painting and mixed media.
“I think that they are pretty open to anything, honestly,” Zoey’s mother, Ellen Prince, said. “We all know that art comes in so many different forms, so I think that’s the fun thing is the kids are getting to find what their interest level is. … These kids are learning that there are other forms of art, so I think it’s really fun for the kids in Crothersville and some of the kids from other communities.”
The big need now is instructors. Ellen said they can either donate their time or receive compensation through an allotment from the grant. Classes are offered for all ages and go along with the studio’s motto, “Art for all, big and small.”
With the recent move, Zoey said all of the supplies and decorations were taken to the new location. They still have to move shelves and countertops.
“The school had amazing tables that were large, so they had those to allow the art studio to use,” Ellen said. “Those are going to be great for larger projects. It just allows that space.”
Zoey is excited about the art studio being connected to a classroom where the school’s art classes will be conducted.
Throughout her junior high years, Zoey has not been able to take art classes at school. That’s how she got the idea to start an art studio in town.
Crothersville resident Liz Brownlee told Reynolds about the Art Project Support grant after she heard Zoey wanted to start an art studio.
The grant provides funding to support a specific part of an organization’s arts activities, such as a one-time event, a single production, an exhibition, an educational workshop or a series of related arts activities, such as art classes or training sessions. Applicants can request up to $5,000, and the total project budget must be at least twice the grant amount request.
Since the grant had to be submitted by a nonprofit organization or government entity, Zoey made a presentation during a Crothersville Town Council meeting March 3, 2020, in hopes of gaining support for the art studio. The council agreed to support the effort, and Zoey received help from Reynolds in filling out the application.
In July 2020, she learned she was a recipient of nearly $5,000 in establishing The Happy Tree Art Studio.
The initial plan was to put the studio in donated space inside the tattoo parlor. When the shop moved locations, McIntosh still let Zoey have space upstairs.
She received several donations to bring the studio to life, and the first class was in September 2020.
Zoey said it has been great to watch her idea unfold into reality.
“When I started, I was very nervous because I am not very open, I’m very shy and I didn’t really enjoy public speaking and I kind of struggled with that,” she said.
“I felt I may struggle a little bit with this, but it’s going to better my community, it’s going to give kids places to go to do art, express themselves, so I went for it, and Tiffany of course helped me because she is just so helpful,” Zoey said. “It just kind of went from there, and now, I see how big it is for my age because not many kids go out and do that.”
Ellen said it has been very humbling to watch.
“It’s really neat to see the dynamic of a kid want something so bad and then another community member want to help so much,” she said. “The time that Tiffany puts into it to help the kids in the community and families in general, it’s just so amazing to sit back and watch the two of them work together for the same goal but different approaches to the goal.”
Even though Zoey and Reynolds have worked hard to make it all happen, Ellen said they don’t want or need credit.
“They just want it to be successful,” she said. “Those two have just worked so hard for something in our community that was a need. That part of it is just fun to watch.”
Zoey is confident art will continue to make an impact on “all, big and small.”
“I’m very excited for what the future holds,” she said. “There are so many opportunities for the kids now and so many things that are going to be changing for the better.”
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The Happy Tree Art Studio has relocated to Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, 109 S. Preston St., Crothersville.
The next class is from 3 to 5 p.m. June 23.
To sign up for classes or serve as an instructor, text Tiffany Reynolds at 248-912-5721, send a message via facebook.com/thehappytreeartstudio or email [email protected].
The community-based art studio is made possible by a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.