Review: The Art of Port Washington

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Cristina Foglietta

The Art Loft of Port Washington is a non-profit cooperative for artists where work space can be shared. It provides a creative working and teaching environment where all are welcomed. The venue has various types of art classes for all ages.

“Communities need a place to show people’s creativity without an expensive price tag,” said Jan Conant Jamshidi, the Director of The Art Loft. “We are not looking for a profit; all we want is to pay our rent and let people utilize space at a reasonable rate.”

Last year, Jamshidi and her co-owners, Rita Wilmers and Barbara La Motta, were looking for a new, bigger space when their new location, in the Community Chest Building, opened up. “It’s about the best deal in town,” Wilmers exclaimed.

Wilmers teaches a mixed media and acrylic painting class and a fashion drawing class for children ages nine through 12. She creates art using various mediums. Her ongoing exhibit of paintings was featured as Alison Humphrey’s on the first season of the CW’s Gossip Girl.

“On Wednesdays, a group gets together to paint and critique each other’s work. We learn from each other and appreciate each other’s point of view,” said La Motta. In this type of meeting, several independent artists work on their own pieces while in each other’s company. It is cheaper because each person just pays to use the space, not for a class. The Art Loft overlooks the water and has a scenic atmosphere, which can inspire artists. “It is a social environment, has wonderful lighting, and is an amazing atmosphere for ideas,” said La Motta.

Jamshidi has the only private studio in the coop because her work consists of mostly glass. She creates plates and vases, designs them by cutting shapes out of bronze paper, paints them, and then places them on the glass. Jamshidi teaches a mixed media collage glass workshop.

The founders of the Art Loft have worked together for five years and are like a family. They all work as a group, and they encourage people with similar spirits. “We are planning to expand and are looking for residents to join us for shared space,” said Jamshidi. A few more residents are needed. Both teachers and independent artists are welcomed. They volunteer in Project Independence, which keeps senior citizens living in their nursing homes. The Art Loft will also have a table at Port Fest 2012.

“We should interconnect the arts, visual arts with poetry and music; they are all connected,” said Wilmers. The Art Loft wants to start teaching classes in writing and journalism as well. “Art is all influenced by the world and inspired by culture. Nothing is isolated,” she said.

Both students and faculty from LIU are invited to join. The Art Loft is located at 382 Main Street, 2nd Floor in Port Washington, New York 11050. The telephone number is (516) 767-8804.

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