‘Fun’ is the goal at Artsy Smartsy studio in New Brighton

Brightly colored décor inspires art students who create their projects at Artsy Smartsy Studio in New Brighton. (photos by Vonny Rohloff/Bulletin)

Artist and business owner Tina Ottmar and her boxer, Wendy, hang out in the newly decorated Artsy Smartsy Studio in New Brighton.

Jean Jefferson from Wellington Senior Living proudly shows her Japanese-style painting she made during a class directed by artist Tina Ottmar.

The new Artsy Smartsy Studio at 909 Seventh Ave. N.W. in New Brighton is the inspiration of Tina Ottmar, an artist, and educator.

Her aim, she says, is to reach people who are underserved in art, and now she has accessible space to help her achieve that goal.

She explains the name Artsy Smartsy comes from the art-making classes she teaches (thus the “artsy”), and a bit of interesting and fun “smartsy” art history.

Ottmar’s students - kindergartners to 90-year-olds - take classes in everything from batik silk painting to woodworking. She uses unconventional methods of teaching, such as singing, dancing, story and joke telling which are amusing, engaging and fun.

With a master’s degree in architecture and a lifetime of creating art, Ottmar opened the studio in New Brighton in January. However, the studio concept began in 2009 when she helped her grandmother with arts and crafts in the basement activities room at Chandler Place Assisted Living in St. Anthony. It was a way to encourage her grandmother to meet new friends and continue her creativity after her husband Hubert’s unexpected death.

Thus followed Ottmar’s outreach art program, which is specifically for seniors and is in more than 30 senior-living facilities and reaches up to 350 seniors each month.

In addition to the outreach seniors art programs, Ottmar offers art classes for all ages in her newly remodeled studio. She also teaches free classes in the spring and fall at a few Ramsey and Hennipen county libraries.

The classes do not specialize in just one medium but include art to attract people with all interests. Some past projects have included beading, needlecrafts, quilting, woodworking and scrapbooking.  The art projects also include watercolors, oil paintings, mosaic mirrors and fabric projects such as weaving and wreath making.

An upcoming art project is concrete mosaic steppingstones.

Most of the classes for adults are taught during the weekdays, however, night or weekend classes for kids birthdays, mom’s clubs, ladies night out, mom/grandma and me classes, or even team building classes for business are scheduled.

Ottmar explains that her Artsy Smartsy business is the culmination of all her experiences in design, art, customer service, sales, education and large-family dynamics, and close relationships with her grandparents.

“I have learned that I am always learning, and becoming a better artist and teacher,” Ottmar says.

For more information on Artsy Smartsy classes, Ottmar can be reached at 651- 334-3997.

-Vonny Rohloff

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