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BIG ARTS features classes and courses to keep islanders busy this season

By Staff | Jan 13, 2010

Bea Pappas holds a popular watercolor painting class at BIG ARTS. This class participants are: Toby Lieberman, Lynn Quigley, Anita Marshall, John Crump, Rhoda Dickenson, teacher Bea Pappas, Pat Harig, Elaine Winer.

Whether you want to learn how to write a memoir to hand down to family members, paint a child’s rocking chair or learn how to handle money in a challenging economy BIG ARTS can be considered a one-stop-shop for learning.

The non-profit agency is gearing up for the winter season with a palette of classes, workshops and programs to keep the community busy and enlightened.

“We invite everyone to immerse themselves in their favorite medium in a wonderfully unique environment,” said Marina Dowling, BIG ARTS Workshop coordinator. “Many recent news stories from scientists report that continued learning is just what the brain needs to stay sharp over a lifetime. Our island setting is inspiring, the teachers are top professionals, and our students enjoy the supportive environment. We have workshops at all levels of skills taught by professional workshop instructors. The schedule of classes changes annually, to provide diverse, exciting choices.”

Many of the courses and programs are unique and not the typical painting and learn how to operate the computer classes.

The programs are geared to the diverse interests of the community.

For instance, Kassia Sparks is teaching a class on how to make children’s rocking chairs. Sparks, an interior designer who sells children furniture and exhibits her work, wanted to teach something that could be passed down to generations.

“It’s for that special child in your life,” Sparks said. “It’s an heirloom.”

The Painting-Child’s Rocking Chair with Kassia Sparks is Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

And for those who would like to preserve their life story to perhaps eventually pass down the family line or maybe even make it on the silver screen for countless eyes to see BIG ARTs is featuring a Memoir Writing class for Women.

In keeping with the times, BIG ARTS is offering a program about economics. During a recent chat with island residents on the street, more folks showed an interest in learning about how to make money or better understand the stock market in reaction to the recent recession that hit the U.S. Economic Policy Workshop with Lawrence Davidson begins Jan. 29, class runs Friday and Wednesdays, call BIG ARTS for more information.

Understanding and meeting the community’s thirst for knowledge as well as intellectual and more light-hearted pursuits is BIG ARTS mission.

“It’s all about meeting the community’s needs,” said Lee Ellen Harder, the executive director of BIG ARTS. “They (residents) want to be able to continue to learn. The desire to learn us lifelong until the very end.”

Though the rough economy has been hard for BIG ARTS to maintain the attendance levels they have in previous year, staff are working hard to make it a successful season.

“We have been effected like everyone else,” Harder said. “We’re trying to be prudent in what we offer. We keep a constant eye on what’s going on in the economy.”

BIG ARTS staff put their collective heads together to spot trends, needs and of course listen to the public in order to see what courses and programs people will want to sign up for during season.

International/political issues, health and science, women’s issues and topical issues such as the economy are what’s important to people coming to the programs now, Harder said.

But islanders are not just coming to BIG ARTS to learn.

“They also want to have fun,” Harder said. “They want to be entertained.”

Here is a list of the current schedule of courses and programs at BIG ARTS.

Classes beginning the last week of January 2010 are:

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial begins Jan. 19, meets Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Memoir Writing for Women with Betty Sprague and Martha Soshnick begins Jan. 21, meets Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon

Take Photos You Can Be Proud of with Eric Orkin begins Jan. 22, meets Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon

Seven Classic Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant with Hal Cantor begins Jan. 22, meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon

Fine Silver Jewelry the Easy Way with Mary Ann Devos runs Saturday Jan. 23, and Sunday Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sailor’s Valentine with Brandy Llewellyn begins Jan. 23, meets Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Papier-mch Sculpture with Jerry Churchill runs Saturday Jan. 23, and Sunday Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial is Tuesday Jan. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Nature Printing: Flowers & Leaves on Fabric with Mona Gleitz is Thursday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Economic Policy Workshop with Lawrence Davidson begins Jan. 29, class runs Friday and Wednesdays, call BIG ARTS for more information.

Circle of Friends with Katie Gardenia runs Saturday Jan. 30, and Sunday Jan. 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Painting-Child’s Rocking Chair with Kassia Sparks is Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Painting & Drawing Open Studio begins Feb. 1, meets Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Drawing The Easy Way with Julie Siler Olander begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Watercolor to The Easy Way II with Julie Siler Olander begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon

The Joy of Poetry with Joe Pacheco begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Adobe Photoshop for Beginners with Denny Souers begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Pilates Mat Class with Marsha Wagner begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m.

Collage: “Tiny Treasures” Greeting Cards & Artwork with Laraine Centineo begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial meets Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Painting with Hollis Jeffcoat begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Watercolors – Realism to Abstract with Anne Kittel begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Art of Papermaking with Lynn Russell begins Feb. 3, meets Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Learning to See & Draw Through Old Master Drawings with Daphne Hammond begins Feb. 3, meets Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon

Interactive Art Appreciation with Don Maurer begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Introduction to Macintosh OS X with Dick Holmes begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Photography Intermediate with Denny Souers begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Wall Glazing & Frottage 101 with Michele Oppenberg begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon

The History of Jazz – The Early Years with Jack Bailey begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon

Building on the Four Cornerstones of Painting: Series 2 with Hollis Jeffcoat begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Life Drawing – Open Studio Non Instructed with Carol Rosenberg begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 9:15 a.m. to noon and also Fridays from 12 to 2:45 p.m.

For further information about workshops at BIG ARTS; stop by BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road Sanibel; call 395-0900; e-mail info@BIGARTS.org; or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.

(A press report contributed to this story.)