Owner Susan Bagrationoff’s Enthusiasm Is Contagious
by Michelle Gehlman-Teeter
You can’t look at Artsy Fartsy Art Lessons without looking at its proprietor, Susan Bagrationoff, for it is an extension of her. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and the space at 218 W. Meeker St. in downtown Kent is perfect for making a creative mess. There are paint-splattered tables, a cleanly-swept floor and artists’ works displayed on all the walls.
The story of Artsy Fartsy actually started years ago when Bagrationoff was in college. The art teachers were not as supportive as she felt they should be, and that’s when the dream of teaching art in her own studio started.
Bagrationoff was a certified art teacher for kindergarten, first grade and middle school for 11 years in Fort Meyers, Florida. Four years ago, people started asking her about giving private art lessons. She was finally in the position to make her dream a reality and started Artsy Fartsy.
When Bagrationoff moved to Kent, she heard the schools here did not have art classes, so she moved the business with her. Artsy Fartsy has only been open about three months, but in that time, Bagrationoff has started to build a following of students enjoying her classes and artists displaying their work.
Artsy Fartsy offers low cost art classes for kids and adults alike to explore their creativity. The classes offered right now are in painting, drawing, sewing and knitting, and she plans to add monoprint (print making) and loom weaving in the New Year. They are taught in small groups of up to fifteen students, of which there are a wide mix of ages and skill levels.
“We have very experienced artists wanting to learn new stuff to people knowing nothing about art. A little of everybody comes here to be taught and they teach me too,” said Bagrationoff.
What drives her to continue and build is the desire to inspire others.
“I got out of the classroom so I can teach art and inspire more people.”
In her off time, Bagrationoff does fire spinning for fun and at events like Kent Downtown Partnership’s Third Thursday Art Night. She has had some of her paintings shown in galleries in Fort Meyers and sold on Etsy. She participates in Renaissance Festivals and is a part-time Pirate! In Florida, Bagrationoff belonged to the “Treasure Coast” Pirates and is now joining Olympia’s “Brethren of the Burning Sea” Pirates. These groups perform and do charity events for places like children’s hospitals, Make a Wish and honoring vets.
Bagrationoff also volunteers as an Art Docent at East Hill Elementary for Mrs. Onorati’s first grade class. Once a month she goes into the classroom to teach an art lesson based in art history. Last month’s lesson was based on Fauvism, and the class used watercolors to create their own masterpieces.
At Artsy Fartsy, Bagrationoff loves people to come to her with ideas of things they want to learn. She teaches real art, not just painting pretty pictures. Students will come away with some art history knowledge along with their creations. Eventually, Bagrationoff would like to get other artists teaching and possibly move to a bigger space.
To sum up what Bagrationoff loves most about teaching art, she said, “When I see people get that ‘I get it’ moment when they discover themselves, that makes me happy.”
Artsy Fartsy’s classes are taught Tuesday through Saturday. Check out her schedule and upcoming events on her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/artsyfartsyartlessons/.