Evanston branch of One River School of Art + Design to open in June


Source: One River School of Art + Design

Children practicing art at a One River School. The company’s Evanston branch is set to open June 2 and 3, with the opportunity to participate in trial runs of the classes.

Jake Holland, Web Editor

Following rapid growth at other locations around the country, the Evanston branch of One River School of Art + Design, 1033-1035 Davis St., will hold its grand opening June 2 and 3.

The opening will feature free trial classes throughout the day for both children and adults, said Cristina Willard, director of the Evanston branch. The opening will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

Willard said visitors will be able to sign up for summer camps at the opening. The school — which provides art education outside of a traditional K-12 classroom — operates on a membership basis, with most courses ongoing throughout the year, Willard said.

“There’s really no start and stop points, which I think is a really nice entry for people,” Willard said. “They don’t have to wait for the next class to start if they’re interested in that type of art.”

Some of the classes, she said, rotate throughout a variety of media, making it easy for people of all ages to explore and find what type of art they like. These classes — called art shuffles — provide students with materials like pastels, ink and oil, giving them the liberty to “really choose what they want to focus on” while also receiving guided instruction from a teacher.

And while Willard said there are certainly other opportunities to practice art, One River classes offer the “right venue” for people who want a standard weekly routine, without the stress of grades or deadlines.

“So many people want to take a step forward or a step deeper,” Willard said. “Having a space that’s open and friendly and welcoming, and where creativity is the focus, is the goal.”

One River finds its flow

The Evanston branch marks the eighth location of the One River consortium, with plans for 15 total schools to be opened by year’s end, One River founder and CEO Matt Ross said.

Ross conceived of One River, he said, after noting a lack of extracurricular arts education in the northern New Jersey suburbs.

“It’s a reflection of the gap that exists all across the country that we don’t really get tremendous cultural experiences in suburbia,” Ross said. “It dawned on me that people needed a different point of view on taking fun art classes that were compelling, in a way in which they didn’t have to drive into the city center to do so.”

To address that gap, Ross founded the first One River in Englewood, New Jersey, in 2012. Since then, the school has expanded across the country, setting up shop in the suburbs of New York, Portland and Dallas.

“We tend to see that in affluent suburbs like the North Shore, there’s still not a lot of great arts programs,” Ross said. “We think it’s a great opportunity to open in Evanston and other (places in) the Chicago area.”

The consortium, he said, is also working on adding a location in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Ross said all One River schools incorporate a “proprietary” curriculum that “celebrates” the last 50 years of art and artists across America.

“Today, we live in a world where contemporary art has never been celebrated more than it is today,” Ross said. “What I’m trying to do is also create context for artists who are living today.”

A hands-on approach

Claire Jakubiszyn, the Evanston branch’s director of education, said she will translate this emphasis on contemporary artists into her own summer camp course at One River.

While most people are able to name today’s musicians, she said, few people can do the same for living artists. To remedy this, students in her course will study street artists like Keith Haring and Banksy — supplemented with classic artists like Claude Monet.

Still, Jakubiszyn said the course, like all courses at One River, will mainly focus on hands-on art creation. In her summer camp class, she said students will create contemporary street art on medium density overlay panels, a type of plywood.

While students are encouraged to explore art individually, Jakubiszyn said they’ll be guided in their courses by professional teachers, whether they be working artists or more traditional arts educators.

Not counting herself, Jakubiszyn said there will be seven or eight teachers at the Evanston branch, with the possibility of hiring more in the fall.

And because these teachers are encouraged to emphasize creativity and exploration over a single correct method or process to art, Jakubiszyn said students will learn how to learn and how to think — something, she said, that’s lacking in some American curricula.

“Informal education settings like One River School are important because students are not getting a grade — they’re not like, ‘I have to find the right answer,’” she said. “It’s about (students) having the time to explore and ultimately create something of their own design.”

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