Art Supply Store Opens Instructional Studios for Kids, Adults

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Most everyone in the greater Raleigh area has heard of Jerry’s ArtaRama. Known for its wide selection of art supplies and strong online, catalog and retail business, it’s one of the first places artists go when they need to stock up. Jerry’s has recently opened two artists’ studios in Raleigh, each with a unique goal and vision.

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Artopia, a wide open, bright space has been created for kids from toddlers to teenagers to create, play and hone their artistic skills. The studio is packed with high quality materials and many different media for kids to explore. Music is played while kids work and, though this is art instruction, it’s not as structured as school, which gives children the flexibility to discover and create what interests them.

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Artopia classes are led by classically trained art instructors who are all practicing artists in their own right. This allows children to learn and understand art from a historical perspective while still feeling fun and excitement. All of the instructors work to bring art history and literature into what they do.

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Kids in a session about the Mona Lisa learned about the time period it was painted in and why the Mona Lisa was relevant. They then got a chance to create their own version from their own perspective.

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Instructor Janelle Piotrowski, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Meredith College, wants her students to not just say what art they like, but why.

“Being able to discover then explain what they like boosts confidence and ability,” Piotrowski said.  “Their artistic voice can be heard and they see that it’s not just about being famous.”

The goal is to not just help kids learn art appreciation, but life appreciation as well. While boosting confidence, art appreciation can also spark interest in other areas and provide a new language for a child.

Paul Nguyen, an instructor who holds a BFA from the College of Charleston, reminds his students that art is for everyone and, though it may seem overwhelming, anyone can do it. Nguyen echoes what a former teacher once told him: “Art can be simplified, but not simple.” In other words, every masterpiece starts with one stroke and builds from there.

Artopia is currently hosting after school sessions and Saturday workshops, and can be rented for birthday parties with themes such as Gizmos & Gadgets, Under the Sea, and Alice in Wonderland. Parents may come to Artopia with their own ideas as well.

To learn more about Artopia find them on Facebook or online at

The sister studio next door, Art Bar, operates on the same concept, but for adults. Complete with a wine and beer vending area and a soon-to-be-completed coffee cafe, it’s the urban and suburban artist’s dream.

Much like Artopia, Art Bar is stocked with high quality art supplies for drawing, painting and sculpting. Artists may use easels or tables to work on, including a long 16-person table that is used for Friday night collaborative art. Art Bar is tailored to skill level and welcomes everyone from professional artist to enthusiast.

Along with the open studio, Art Bar provides art instruction taught by classically trained artists with BFAs.

Art Bar features such events as a Saturday night jazz ensemble, a wine-and-cheese “meet the artist” night, workshops such as in wreath-making, and a monthly exhibit featuring local and out-of-town artists.

“We’ve designed an environment where artists can meet their friends or make new ones, create, and have fun,” said Samantha Velkoff, director of programs at Art Bar.

For more information about Art Bar, visit them on Facebook and online at