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One River School of Art + Design to open on Davis Street

A gallery in a One River School. The company will open their first Chicago-area location in Evanston in May.

A gallery in a One River School. The company will open their first Chicago-area location in Evanston in May.

Source: One River School of Art + Design

Source: One River School of Art + Design

A gallery in a One River School. The company will open their first Chicago-area location in Evanston in May.

Catherine Henderson, Assistant City Editor

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The One River School of Art + Design will soon open the doors of a new campus for Evanston’s future Picassos and amateur artists alike, providing art classes for all ages and a gallery for local artists to display their work.

The school, which will open on Davis Street in May 2018, will be the organization’s eighth overall location and its first in the Chicago area. It plans to build six other sites within three years, said Paige Peavler, vice president of operations for the One River School in Chicago.

Peavler said Evanston will be a good fit for the One River School because of its large population, central location among Chicago suburbs and thriving art scene, with one of the largest communities of working artists in the country.

“Evanston and the North Shore are very supportive of the arts, and there’s a very large art community,” Peavler said. “We love Evanston. It’s a beautiful suburb and it’s very friendly towards art and businesses.”

Peavler said the space will include a gallery area and three classrooms. In the gallery, local artists, art teachers and students from the programs will display their work for other community members.

Two of the classrooms will be designed for fine arts classes ranging from watercolors and realistic drawing to sculpture, Peavler said. The last classroom will be a digital design space, she added, a space for the One Art School to teach documentary, animation, photoshop and fashion.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he is excited for the school to move into his ward and that he hopes to see more opportunities for the community to engage with art, especially as the city has cut back funding for public art projects.

“Seeing the positive impact of being able to go to a safe place, learn how to create something and feel like you’re in a safe space in doing that, it helps you as a human being,” Wilson said.

One Art School’s vice president of operations Agnes Zabawa said that since helping found the school in 2012, it has worked on “perfecting” its curriculum and operations.

Zabawa emphasized the high demand for art classes, especially with both public and private schools cutting funding for fine arts. She said parents with creative kids sought out programs like the One Art School and that adults enjoyed getting involved as well.

“We introduce contemporary art and we’ve got an amazing curriculum,” Zabawa said. “The first couple of years allowed us to … teach people how to teach art and validate what we were doing, which gave us the leverage to start to share this with other communities.”

Zabawa said the school’s curriculum often focuses on modern art created by living artists on display all around the world. She added the emphasis on digital art “really impacted our success,” teaching students skills for the modern workplace.

Peavler said the classes are flexible for teachers and students, and said art teachers from local schools can work part-time during the evening or over the weekend. Busy students also have the flexibility to come into a class halfway through, she said, and art supplies are included in the cost of the classes.

“Art is an individual thing,” Peavler said. “So each student will be doing their individual project and working at their own pace but in a group setting so there’s still some community there.”

Twitter: @caity_henderson