Jo Ellen Traylor loved art growing up, but 15 years ago she quit making art. Last fall she took yards of silk, brilliant indigo dyes and a batik class through Community Schools and rejuvenated her creative spirit.
``One thing I really enjoyed about the class was the creative social atmosphere,'' she said. ``It expands the creative process exponentially - just being around creativity. It's like energy - you have to expend it to get more of it.''
About two dozen art classes will be open to the public through the community schools program, and most start in mid-January. Scores of other classes, from computers to martial arts, music, acting, yoga, fly-tying and fly-fishing, are available as well.
Community Schools, a component of the Juneau School District, also networks with the University of Alaska Southeast and Juneau Parks and Recreation. Some classes - such as art appreciation, silk-screening, printmaking and Northwest Coast basketry and carving - are UAS classes. Because they meet on weekends or evenings, have no prerequisites and are of potential interest to the community, they're available through Community Schools.
Community members exploring their artistic interests mix with lower- and upper-division art students working toward degrees, and it works well, said Alice Tersteeg, a UAS art instructor.
``It's like having half the class doing demonstrations all the time. It really helps them and motivates them a lot, having all three levels in there,'' Tersteeg said.
These UAS classes are one to three credits, and cost about $75 per credit. Many classes also have fees for materials. Other classes, like the community jazz band, are run by volunteers and are taught for free. University classes run through early May; others are just a few months or weeks long. Some are one-day workshops.
Fly tying is sponsored by the Raincountry Flyfishers club, and has been a popular class. Seven club members pitch in to teach.
Club President Tony Soltys said in addition to learning basic fly-tying techniques, it's a good way to learn what catches fish in the Juneau area. Participants also include non-anglers.
``We've had women come who have no intention of fishing. They just want to learn how to tie them, and give them as presents,'' he said. ``We've had a lot of parents bring their kids, and I get a good feeling from that. It's a good creative outlet for the long, dark winter nights here.''
Joyce Kitka, community schools supervisor, said many of the classes are initiated by folks from the community, and she works to find an instructor.
``We never seem to have a problem finding the participants. Often the problem is finding the community member who has the knowledge and the time to teach,'' she said. ``Somebody will call up with an idea, and I may not be sure if it will work. But we'll try it, and sure enough, it will fill up and be bursting at the seams.''
Other times instructors approach her and offer to teach. Donna Pagenkopf has taught a popular class in stained glass for the past four years through Community Schools.
``I had taken a beginning class nine years ago from Bruce Elliot, who did most of the beautiful work you see around town. Bruce left and some folks at church asked me if I could teach them. The experience was so much fun, and since no one else was teaching, I brought it to Community Schools,'' Pagenkopf said.
Debbie Held, one of Pagenkopf's former students, explored her own interest in glass mosaic building, and in the most recent fall session she taught a class herself in that area.
The success of the Pagenkopf's first few classes inspired her to start a business, Living Color Stained Glass and Supplies.
``That really grew out of the fact nobody had any supplies in Juneau. It seemed ridiculous to offer a class when there's no way to buy supplies in Juneau,'' Pagenkopf said.
At the other end, batik student Traylor's positive experience with Community Schools helped inspire her to sell her business. Traylor has been selling art supplies for 11 years through her store, The Art Department, but said she never really pursued art herself.
Now she's put the store up for sale and wants to spend more time actually making art.
Community Schools schedules were mailed to Juneau homes last week, and can be obtained through the office in the basement of Harborview Elementary School. The first opportunity to register for classes will be from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at Nugget Mall, and Monday at the office.
``Some classes will fill up in the first hour of registration,'' Kitka said. ``I encourage people to register early, even if class doesn't start for a month or two, to allow the instructor to prepare materials and know what to expect. We refund the money if people can't take it.''
For more information, call Community Schools at 463-1717 or UAS at 465-6405.
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