The Art of Perseverance

From paint parties to virtual events, artists offer classes and engage the community amidst the pandemic

By Kat Braz
Photos Provided

The original idea behind Art with a Happy Heart Gallery and Studio was simple: find a way to share art and support the community at the same time. After quickly outgrowing her barn studio, owner and artist Sarah Czajkowski purchased the building previously occupied by Samson and Delilah Salon and Spa at 2139 Ferry St. in Lafayette. She set about transforming the space and opened to the public on July 1.

The gallery showcases artwork from local, regional and international artists while the studio provides an area for private art instruction, classes taught by visiting artists, seasonal craft workshops and paint parties, which is where Czajkowski got her start.

“Paint parties lend themselves to creativity and connection,” she says. “The experience fosters a real sense of self-confidence and pride. Guests are surprised and amazed that they created the artwork themselves.”
Czajkowski also offers a mobile paint party studio where she brings all the supplies to any location up to an hour away. The parties have been popular with girls’ night out groups, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, corporate events, bridal parties, church groups and fundraisers. Paint party kits are also available for purchase in the gallery. During the pandemic, Czajkowski has focused primarily on private group parties. Future plans for the venue include serving wine, beer and a small food menu on the outdoor patio and hosting live music once a week in addition to building out a full calendar of courses in fine art, pottery and jewelry making.

“To be able to do this for a living brings me so much joy,” Czajkowski says. “All I want is for people to be happy while they are here. It’s truly a magical place.”

Adapting art

The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was founded in 1909 with a three-part mission to collect art, exhibit art and provide educational opportunities for individuals in the community to learn about art and experience art hands on. The museum has remained true to its mission over the years, but COVID-19 presented challenges for traditional in-person instruction. Instead, the museum quickly pivoted to a virtual environment.

“Many of our faculty members created online learning experiences,” says Kendall Smith, executive director and CEO. “We’re trying a lot of new things.”

Last fall, the museum offered virtual classes in painting and drawing for kids and adults through Zoom and Facebook Live. Additionally, watercolor kits are available for purchase through the museum shop for students to use at home while watching a series of watercolor technique videos recorded by a member of the museum faculty. The pottery studio remains open to advanced students with limited occupancy.

“The reaction from the community has been very positive,” Smith says. “Several of our online children’s art classes have sold out right after they were announced. We plan to continue to offer virtual education and create video productions to enhance what we offer in the future. We’re all learning a lot.”

Art Classes Around Town

» All Fired Up
In addition to its paint-your-own pottery studio, All Fired Up offers off-site parties and pottery-to-go kits with everything you need to complete a masterpiece. Items painted with pottery paints can be returned to the store for firing to make them food safe. Decorative items that do not need to be food safe can be finished in acrylic paints. Learn more at allfiredupwestlafayette.com.

» Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Find online art activities and tutorials as well as information about virtual art classes for youth and adults at the Art Museum’s website, artlafayette.org.

» Art with a Happy Heart
In addition to private paint parties, artist-led workshops and even yoga classes, this recently opened studio and gallery holds open studio events where you’ll walk away with your own seasonal craft. Find out more at artwithahappyheart.com.

» Inspired Fire
Owned and operated by glass artist Sharon Owens, this glass studio and gallery located in Shadeland offers a range of classes for ages 6 and up with no experience required. See a complete list of class offerings at inspiredfire.com.

» Lafayette Atelier
Modeled after private art studio schools that emerged in 19th century Europe, this nonprofit art education studio was founded by artist James C. Werner. Focused on classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture, the studio offers weekly demonstration and life
drawing nights. Find them on Facebook @classicalfinearttraining.

» LaLa Gallery & Studio
Owner Angela Taylor teaches lessons, classes, parties, groups and students with special needs starting with children (3+) to adults in her private pottery studio located in the Bindery Artist Studios. Each class offering can be customized according to the student’s interest and level of experience. For more information, visit lalagallery.com.

» West Lafayette Parks and Recreation
Everything from basket weaving to watercolor to photography is on offer through West Lafayette Parks and Recreation. All programs take place at 1200 N. Salisbury St. (site of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School). View the entire recreation brochure at westlafayette.in.gov/parks.