Main Street's Brightest Corner Just Got Even Better: Welcome, Gina Marie's Art Studio!
I know we've all seen this super fun and colorful corner on the north end of Main Street as we've gone about our daily business around town. If you happen to have walked or driven by during business hours, you've probably also heard some pretty rockin' tunes emanating from the building too...all of that is thanks to Amy Bierstedt, owner of Shutter-Happy Photography and From Scratch Farm. Amy's businesses have been located in this darling little spot on Main Street for just over a year now and from day one, her space has been nothing short of a total personification of her bubbly personality. I remember one conversation when Amy said to me, "If it's colorful, it makes my heart happy. Color makes me happy."
Well, now there's a new colorful personality on the block and it belongs to Gina Reese of Gina Marie's Art Studio. These two lovely business-ladies share an entryway and it is a true match made in Heaven!
Recently we were invited to visit Gina's studio and our Big Girl took part in one of the art camps there last week. If I had to choose three words to describe what you feel upon walking into the studio, it would be "cozy", "creative", and "familiar". You don't feel like you've stepped into Gina's place of business; you feel like you've stepped into her home. The soft music, the memorabilia, and artwork that she and her students have created that fills every wall and rests on every table...it all makes it feel so much more personal than anything you could've expected. So when Gina told me that her former San Antonio studio was a space where she "had lots of children just wanting to be in the space with [her]; high school kids just needing a creative space....a happy place. And children with disabilities needing an outlet", it made total sense.
And, the studio really is such a cute, happy space:
Gina's summer art camps start at 9:00am. We arrived right on time and they got started pretty quickly...so don't be late! In the twenty minutes or so that I was there snapping a few photos, I heard Gina attempting to decipher whether our Big Girl was left or right handed (which gave me a chuckle because we've been trying to figure that out for years...she uses both!), asking her about what kind of painting she's done in the past, showing her how to properly hold the brush to have more control, and showing her how to blend colors.
Then I heard my daughter say, "Oops! I kinda made a mistake."
"That's okay!", Gina replied. "This is art...there are no mistakes in art. BUT, if you'd like to correct it, sometimes white paint can be used as sort of an eraser on a white canvas. Here, let me show you."
Then Gina spoke to the other student in the class, "Do you like painting with the acrylic paint better than with the watercolors we used yesterday? You appear to be painting more freely today."
"Yeah, I like the way it moves better", the student answered.
"Yes, I can tell."
Gina's technical expertise comes from a lifetime of painting, creating, and teaching others. She opened, and taught at, two art studios in San Antonio before opening her own studio there and then eventually finding her way to Boerne. Her ability to connect with her students and talk with them about the emotional aspects of the art comes from her work as an art therapist for children and seniors and also her work with the Alzheimer's Association's memory art program, "Memories in the Making".
Gina was teaching a step-by-step art program to patients at Franklin Park Stone Oak when their VP of the Memory Care Program encouraged her to pursue the training for the "Memories in the Making" program and she's been involved with it ever since.
"It is a very successful program that targets individuals with Alzheimer's and it shows that the motor skills and ability to learn remain largely intact." She continued, "The program respects their dignity and documents who they are despite the disease. We often get snapshots of events in their life in the art that they create. It is a worthwhile program that just makes my heart sing. I had one gentleman that could not remember where his room was or who his children were, as the disease progressed. But on one Saturday, he painted a vacation that he took with his children forty years earlier. It was art that brought his children to tears. He remembered the fish, the boat and the lake that they sailed on. It's true therapy for everyone involved."
Gina's artistic adventure is a far cry from her "other life" in the corporate world where she worked in Human Resources for Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, and St. Mary's University. She quite candidly informed me that she had cancer two years ago and had stopped painting altogether.
"It was two children that insisted on lessons that got me back to the studio. Then I turned fifty and left corporate to pursue this full-time. I am blessed to have found this happy place in Boerne. And to be starting a new chapter of my life."
And Gina has wasted no time getting involved in our local community. Since her studio's grand opening in June, she's already become a Community Partner for the Boerne Community Coalition and is hosting a kids' "Introduction to Art" camp through the organization this week.
When asked what other exciting things are in store for her new studio for the remainder of 2018, she replied, "I think the studio is very diverse and where the creative process goes...we want to be there. So we will do birthday parties, camps, team-building events, paint and sips for adults, and fundraisers. We will do directed draw classes which are a step-by-step class structure. But, we are also excited to have creative play classes that offer more of a process-based art structure. This art is more about the making, the learning and the doing of art....not just the end result of the art. Truly, it just makes my heart happy to bring art to others. I am happy if they feel the art and want to create. When they feel the excitement of it, I do too."
You'll find Gina Marie's Art Studio at 347 N. Main Street, Suite B, Boerne. Studio hours are Monday-Friday, 12:00-6:00pm. Saturday classes start at 10:00am. Still need more information? Contact Gina by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the Web, Instagram, or Facebook. Go, explore, and HAVE FUN!
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NOTE: Our family received one complimentary art camp day in exchange for this post. However, all content and opinions are my own, unless otherwise stated.