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Open-ended expressive arts studio offers sanctuary and transformation
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Open-ended expressive arts studio offers sanctuary and transformation

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The Open-ended expressive arts studio in Hamilton offers a creative art space to relax, renew, and process and is hosting a grand opening on Saturday, May 1.

The space across from the Daly Elementary School offers a critique-free setting with an emphasis on process not product and transformational opportunities.

Barb Lucas is a licensed clinical professional counselor, an expressive arts therapist, personal coach and the founder of the studio. She said the studio has been open for about a year, had a soft opening due to the coronavirus pandemic and has been successful.

“The two hopes for the studio, when it was just a vision, were to connect people to their own creativity and connect people to each other. Both of those things are happening,” Lucas said. “Renaissance always follows a plague, we are ready for renaissance; we are bringing the renaissance. The studio helps you do it. There is something about the endless potential and possibility.”

The space, once a Montessori school, offers space to relax, create, refresh and connect. Upon entering there are bright colors and cubbies for artists to leave their materials, a “table room” with art supplies and materials available, handicap-accessible restrooms, a large room with a canvas labyrinth filling the space and the backyard offers an acre of lawn filled with fruit trees.

“The space is magical,” Lucas said. “When you walk in that door you feel the invitation to really express yourself in ways you don’t normally. You see it on people’s expressions and you hear it in their words and in their breath. It is so alive and enlivening. People wake up and get super inspired and creative and want to bring friends. The space sparks aliveness in people.”

She said the studio provides connection for people who would never come across each other any other way.

“There’s just an ease of connection because they are engaging in their creative process,” Lucas said. “There is so much commonality around people’s fears, maybe they don’t know where to start, those newcomers' jitters, they can relate to each other around that.”

The studio offers open studio hours for work in solitude, private mentoring to support explorations, and both small and large group events for creating, connecting and free expression.

The Open-ended expressive arts studio website said the studio offers arts that are “low-skill and high-intensity, which means anyone can participate and the experience will affect some change: changed mood, changed perspective, changed energy levels.”

Current offerings include a once-a-month preschool program which is guided exploration of art materials and processes guided by the studio’s early childhood educator; parents can visit and relax during this time; personal coaching, yoga, special art creation events for creative expression and social connection, open-studio times and monthly meditative labyrinth walks to establish a rhythm of ritual and contemplation.

The Open-ended expressive arts studio offers times for expressive arts for special populations such as those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, adults with developmental delays, adults diagnosed with emotional disorders, adults recovering from serious illness/injury, and others who are isolated or have compromised capacities.

Lucas said guidance is available with facilitators available through the studio.

“There are a handful of facilitators who wear a variety of hats in our community, as do I, but we are all each bringing what we are passionate about,” she said. “There is a passion of bringing others in our community and introducing them to their creativity. We serve the evolving needs of our community across all ages, backgrounds and abilities.”

In addition to Lucas, facilitators include Rebecca Lellek, Kris Bayer, Laura Garber, Kiersten Owings and Lea Guthrie.

The grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, will have tours, information about the studio and membership opportunities, food, refreshments, and over a dozen local makers, creators and artisans.

“To celebrate the return of springtime and the official opening of the studio, we are hosting an incredible makers market facilitated by Rooted Ceramics, right in our own backyard,” Lucas said.

Participants in the grand opening include Rooted Ceramics, Linneah Hanson Art, Kim Kresan Art, Silo Skin Care LLC, Dulcie Belanger Clay Artist, Ollie & Em Verdure Pastures, Crafty Girl, Hot Lemon Glass, Key to the Mountain, Eye Seek You, Love Lovely Love, Thistledown Design, Montana Threadscape, Flipsy Daisy Design, Hard Rock Creations, Speedy’s Grill and Bitter Root Brewery.

“[At the Open-ended expressive arts studio] we are returning people to connection with their natural creativity, increasing resilience and restoring well-being through guided and solo exploration of all the creative arts: painting, collage, music, and voice; movement, poetry, drama and story; clay, stillness, silence and ritual, to name a few,” Lucas said. “With what we’ve all been through this is really a good time.”

The Open-ended expressive arts studio is at 201 Daly Avenue in Hamilton. For details visit www.openendedexa.com, or call 406-531-2553. COVID precautions will be followed.

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