Studio 101

Handprints of art class graduates fill a corner of Studio 101’s ceiling.

Some of those students have gone on to study art in college and are now adult artists, said Rebecca Baum, the studio director.

“There have actually been students who came here when they were only 3 that have now graduated high school,” she said.

Rhonda Conn-Parent started Studio 101, which originally focused only on children’s art classes, at her home 18 years ago.

She later moved the business into a building on Colorado Avenue across the street from its current location.

Conn-Parent still teaches a weekly advanced development class at the studio but about a year ago, sold the studio to Marcie Anderson.

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“This summer, Marcie and I got together because she wanted my help to continue on with child-based education but also to start adult classes and other things for the community,” Baum said.

The studio now offers adult ceramic and painting classes in addition to having open studio time for local artists.

“We also are making the studio available to reserve and rent for art shows and different vendors,” Baum said. “This is such a great location, especially around the holidays and in the summertime with all the tourists.”

Christine Thompson, professor of art education at Penn State, developed the teaching style and philosophy used by the studio’s teachers.

“We certainly teach the different fine art techniques,” Baum said. “However, we also really try to allow our students the freedom for them to teach themselves and really be creative and discover who they are as an artist.”

Before moving to Colorado Springs, Baum ran a ceramics studio in her native state of Pennsylvania.

“There, the 50-plus community was a major part of our clientele,” she said. “I just came to really enjoy working with them because it wasn’t just a place for them to learn and create but also a community environment, where they could socialize and make friends.”

Baum is looking to tap into the local senior community to offer the same type of “community environment” at Studio 101.

“I also think it would be nice for events when we can have the varying ages there,” she said. “We can have art shows that include everyone and have all these different ages of people working together, which I think is great.”

Since starting at the studio in August, creating awareness about the new classes has been Baum’s greatest challenge.

“Mainly just trying to get the word out there that we are also doing stuff for adults and it’s not just a kid’s place anymore has been the hardest thing,” she said. “Then, also trying to tap into some of the home-school parents.”

Baum was drawn to Studio 101 because of the opportunity it offered to work with varying ages.

“And I just love art,” she said. “I think art is a beautiful thing and while I like doing my own art, that isn’t enough for me because I really like supporting other artists too.”

In the near future, Baum plans to get the studio involved in some of Old Colorado City’s ongoing First Friday Art Walks, where she hopes to showcase some of the students’ art as well as provide interactive demonstrations from local artists.

“There is one artist in particular I want to have here who does collaborative art pieces where he sets up outside and then he has the community join in as they walk by and work on the painting together with him,” she said. “He does it with fluorescent paint, so under a black light, it really pops.”

Baum said the idea of bringing in demonstrations goes beyond trying to attract new students for the studio.

“We also want to incorporate more local artists so that our young students can see what and how they are creating their art,” Baum said. “We are, and want to stay, a place that is very welcoming and comfortable to be in, especially to learn and create.”

The number of art galleries and studios in Old Colorado City and Colorado Springs shows the area is becoming more progressive, she said.

“It also normally means a city or area has a decent economy,” Baum said.  “While some people might consider the arts a frivolous thing, I think it’s an [integral] part of a person or community.”