Tuscaloosa artists Caleb and Ruth O’Connor recently celebrated the grand opening of their new art studio located downtown on University Boulevard.
The couple found the large, open space while they were looking for personal studio space, bringing a new flair to Tuscaloosa’s art scene.
“It was such a large, raw space with so much potential that it was perfect for both gallery and instructional space,” said Ruth O’Connor.
The O’Connors are both professional artists who met in an art class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The couple moved to Tuscaloosa when Caleb O’Connor, whose specialty is figurative narrative art, was commissioned to paint the mural at the Tuscaloosa Federal Building depicting scenes from Alabama history.
Both have years of prior art teaching experience. Ruth O’Connor was a visual and fine arts instructor for more than 10 years and taught mainly children and high school students, while Caleb O’Connor taught adults.
“It has always been a dream of ours to open our own instructional studio,” Ruth O’Connor said. “And finding this space made our dream a reality earlier than we expected.”
The O’Connors hope to create a laid-back environment where personal expression is just as important as learning great art techniques.
“In my studio, I want people to know we aren’t prejudiced against any art form. We want people to be able to express themselves freely,” Caleb O’Connor said.
The O’Connors said helping students gain a good foundation of the fundamentals of art is important as well as providing students lessons on modern art culture as well.
“Art has grown outside of painting. I want to communicate a modern message and make sure that my students know that the fundamentals of painting are the gateway for new art forms like graphic design and figurative arts,” Caleb O’Connor said.
O’Connor Art Studios is currently offering enrollment in a variety of art classes including figure and plein-air painting, fundamentals of drawing, and figure drawing. There will also be noninstructional, open studio sessions every Friday night with nude models for $15.
Classes usually last six to eight weeks and the O’Connors welcome artists of all skill levels.
“[The studio’s philosophy is to] train and help artists with basic foundations of art, not to make artists into copies of [me] and [my] husband, but encourage them to develop their own style,” Ruth O’Connor said.
Caleb O’Connor said the arts are a very important part of any community.
“I wanted to open the studio to feed the want for the arts and culture in the community,” Caleb O’Connor said. “Art is a large part of our society and everyday life whether we realize it or not. Unfortunately, art has been cut out of many educational systems, and I would like to be a part [of] strengthening community art education where I can.”
Starting fall 2013, the studio will offer a series of featured artists who will come in to teach their techniques and display their work. Some of the featured artists include graphic artist and painter Kevin Margo, realist painter and photographer Kit Gentry and traditional artist Danni Dawson.
The O’Connors are now enrolling new students in their many courses. For more information about the studio or to enroll in classes, call O’Connor Art Studios at (205) 396-9892.