Last week, moreClaremore co-founder Amy Gordon told me about a business in Claremore that I was unfamiliar with. Her 7-year-old son, Zip, had recently been invited to a birthday “Arty Party”. Zip, being “all boy”, was not excited at the prospect. That all changed when he attended the party at Studio B Artworks, Inc. I was intrigued, so I set up a meeting with owner Barbie Rodriguez.
Studio B is located near historic downtown Claremore at 422 W. 4th St. Like Zip, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised when Barbie turned out to be a kindred spirit (except for the art talent, as I have none of that). She was quick to make me feel at home in her studio space, and I easily lost an hour in casual conversation with her. If I didn’t have a previous engagement, who knows how long we would have chatted.
An Edmond native, Barbie has taken quite a path to end up in Claremore. Growing up in a creative family that often did arts and crafts projects, she’s always had the love of art. She’s spent quite a few years being adventurous, working as a missionary in Costa Rica, a retail manager in Hawaii, stints at a doctor’s office and in television production, and finally landing a gig as manager of a fine art gallery in Texas. The gallery job is what convinced her that she could take her art and turn it into something more than a hobby. Barbie’s sister and family live in Claremore, and Barbie knew it was the place to go to launch her new profession.
For the past six years, Barbie has been an art teacher at Justus-Tiawah. In October, she opened Studio B, offering art classes to children after school. Her ultimate goal? To relate hope and a sense of adventure to young minds, and teach the steps to make it happen. Barbie is absolutely passionate about what she does, y’all. But it’s not just about kids learning to draw or paint or sculpt, it’s about giving them the opportunity to experience success and freedom, and to explore who they really are.
In the realm of public school teaching, Barbie faced many kids who weren’t particularly keen on the idea of art. (Remember Zip, who didn’t think the Arty Party would be super awesome? Then totally changed his mind?) She’s dedicated to “following each creative heart” and letting them express themselves. She doesn’t look at art in strictly one medium; she uses drawing, painting, sculpture and papier-mache in her teaching. Each child is encouraged, and Barbie said it’s astounding to see what kids come up with when given creative freedom.
At Studio B, classes are taught to both the young and young at heart. Yes, adults are welcome, too! Class size is limited to 12 students, so there is a good balance of personal attention and freedom. During the school year, students can take weekly lessons. This summer, however, numerous summer art camps are being offered. For the wee ones, ages 3 and 4, parents tag along to help, and the sessions are two days long, and just $25. Older children attend five day sessions for $75, with fun themes like Undersea Odyssey, Industrial Art, and Beautiful Butterflies. Various age categories are available, 3-4-year-olds, 5-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14-17, then Adult. Honestly, just reading the descriptions of the classes are enough to ask, “Where do I sign up?” Supplies are provided. The only thing students need to bring? Imagination.
Are you tired of having your child’s birthday party at the local pizza joint? Try an Arty Party instead. The parent chooses a theme (or Barbie can help, if you’re stuck) and the price of the party is based on the complexity of the project. She’s done everything from Minecraft to animals, and can work with any budget. Spend $10 per guest, or $40 per guest. Barbie works to make it fun and fascinating for kids who may think art isn’t cool. (Hey, remember Zip? He ended up thinking it was cool. If you’re wondering, Zip attended an animal-themed event.) The entire party can be held right at Studio B, including cake and ice cream.
Next on the horizon for Studio B is pottery! Barbie has two wheels and two kilns already, and is looking to add that to the curriculum very soon. Also, she’s toying with the idea of having an “open studio” concept on Saturdays. If you’re itching to do something different with your summer-crazed children, you’d be able to bring them to Studio B and pay by the hour just to let them create as they please. If you would be interested in having this become a reality, please notify Studio B!
Studio B is open during lesson times. It is located at 422 W. 4th St. and can be found on Facebook, so be sure to follow to keep up with the latest. A full list of summer camps is available there, too.
For more information, please contact Barbie Rodriguez at 918-527-5807.
Keep it local, Claremore.