1020 Artworks Studio always starts with a warm-up project before getting down to the day’s lesson.
On a recent Monday night, the students painted. They’re budding artists, in more ways than one. They’re new to art and very young.
Bella and Beth Zimmerly, 6-year-old twin sisters both wearing paper crowns celebrating their 100th day of school, sat across from each other.
“Every time we get home,” Beth said about Bella, “she rushes to the dining room and draws something.”
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Bella likes to draw, dogs especially, but her favorite subject is Lippy Lips, an anthropomorphic tube of lipstick from the collectible-toy series Shopkins. Tonight, a rainbow filled her page.
Sitting next to Beth was Ari Scarborough, also 6.
“I’m drawing a monster from a movie that we watched today,” she said.
It was hard to place the colorful blob to a film, but it was almost better that way. Creativity is what Artworks strives hardest to protect and encourage, the owners said.
She helped me a lot the first few years, and still does, with all of her ideas and lessons and suggestions
Rebecca Frausto, on following in her mother’s footsteps to become an elementary school art teacher
Rebecca Frausto and Marsha Jenkins are the daughter-mother team behind the nascent studio, which opened last year.
Frausto’s husband initially bought the small brick building — just two blocks west of the Highway 13 roundabout in Belleville — for the land. It was adjacent to his swimming pool business, Aqua Works, and initially, he’d intended to tear the old four-room house down.
Convinced by Frausto to open a studio there, he renovated the building over three years, gutting the bathroom and putting new plaster on the walls.
Today, the rooms have been converted into different work spaces. Classes are conducted in the first room. The second is a kitchen, with examples of art strung up on the walls. The third room is dedicated for parties and some special classes. And the fourth, with a large couch, a table and extra supplies, is a drawing room for students to work on other things after class while they wait for parents to pick them up.
“It was always something that we dreamed about doing,” Frausto said about opening the studio.
Both women have a wealth of experience in teaching children about art. Jenkins has been an elementary school art teacher for 19 years, including 14 at her current school, in Brownstown, Ill.
Frausto has worked at a variety of places, but for the past 10 years, she’s taught at Franklin and Roosevelt elementary schools in Belleville. She credits her mother’s example for encouraging her to follow in her path.
“She helped me a lot the first few years, and still does, with all of her ideas and lessons and suggestions,” Frausto said.
The two started working together early. When Frausto was in college, she said, she would help her mother with summer art courses in Vandalia.
Both women also enjoy creating their own art. Jenkins had made ceramics, stained glass, paintings with acrylics and water colors, mixed-media works and drawings, though these days, she said, sometimes she’s busy producing so many examples for her students that it can be hard to find time for her own work.
Frausto, too, has been challenged to find time over the past year. In January 2016, just five months before Artworks opened, she gave birth to her second child.
“With my little ones, I don’t have as much (time),” she said, though sometimes she’ll do the projects at Artworks along with the students.
I just can’t wait to get in there and see their enthusiasm. Kids love art.
Marsha Jenkins, co-owner of 1020 Artworks, in Belleville
Elementary teaching has always been the focus of their careers, and neither of them tire of working with children.
“I commute an hour and 15 minutes (from Brownstown), and it’s no chore,” Jenkins said. “I just can’t wait to get in there and see their enthusiasm. Kids love art.”
Their former students sometimes come back with art they’ve made as teenagers, and some have helped out with lessons in the summer. A few have become graphic artists, and one of Jenkins students, she said, now works in the film industry in California.
Classes at Artworks cost $18 per attendance, or $60 for four, but parties with canvases cost a little more. Students, who have ranged in ages from 3 years old to high schoolers, can join any session and do not have to come to consecutive ones. The studio also has adult classes and uploads pictures of its projects on its Facebook page.
Classes are driven by students, who also learn a little about the artists who inspire the lessons, the Artworks owners said. Some of the artists are Frausto and Jenkins’ personal favorites.
Frausto enjoys Franz Marc, a modernist, and Eric Carle, a contemporary illustrator famous for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
Jenkins likes Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Claude Monet and Andy Warhol.
The students like animals.
Van Gogh didn’t do so bad, either.
Animals, it’s safe to say, are the dominant theme at Artworks. There are canvases of dogs, little hooks shaped like dogs’ tails on the wall to hang coats and smocks, and a poster of dozens of puppies the Artworks women have fostered over the years.
“We are huge animal advocates,” Frausto said. She estimated they’ve fostered more than 300 over the years and said that the only reason why they had to stop was because they’d adopted four or five as their personal pets.
At some point, they said, they’d like to hold fundraisers for animal shelters, but that will be when the studio is a little larger. Over the past year, the women estimated that they’ve taught 100 students, but they plan to advertise more, including their parties and summer classes, this year.
Past party themes have included horses, emojis and even the Eiffel Tower, but last Monday’s project trended more toward friendly creatures made out of stout cardboard cylinders from a cut-up core of a roll of carpeting.
After the painting supplies were put away, Frausto and Jenkins took out the materials for the night’s activity — scissors, paint, brushes, paper and glue — and the small voices of the artists grew louder as they plunged into their projects.
- What: Art classes for all ages
- Who: Owners Rebecca Frausto and Marsha Jenkins
- Where: 1020 South 7th Street, Belleville, IL 62220
- How much: $18 per lesson, or $60 for four
- Check it out: 1020artworks.com