In 2017, Jim Scerbo and Tara Ryan transformed an upstairs office space at 3100 Wilkinson Ave. in the Pelham Bay section into a pathway for artful expression for Bronx youth known as The Artful Attic.
Scerbo and Ryan, co-owners and operators of the Artful Attic, told the Bronx Times that the studio was designed to fill a much-needed space in the borough for arts and children’s enrichment. Creating a holistic, family-friendly space to foster artistic minds and meaningful bonds has been the duo’s philosophy since day one.
“This partnership started because we have a passion for both children and the arts, and I was an assistant pre-K teacher teaching after-school art prior to the Artful Attic’s opening,” Ryan said. “When you look where the options for art spaces are in the Bronx, it’s quite limited. So when Jim approached me to explore an art space here in the Bronx, it aligned with who Jim and I are as people who love to work with children and art.”
The Artful Attic, an upstairs art studio that offers a window of five six-week semesters with classes on both weekdays and Saturdays from mid-September through mid-June, is currently in the middle of its third calendar session, which ends on Feb. 12. When the fourth session resumes on March 3 — weekday classes and Saturday classes are roughly $125 and $150 per semester — each project will be different from sessions prior, a source of pride for the owners-instructors.
“In the past five years, we have never done the same exact project,” said Ryan. “If we’re going to do a snowman one class, in another session, we’ll change it up by including a different mixed medium or different way for the kids to construct the snowman. We like to make sure each class we are working on a different and unique project.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Artful Attic would host as many as 30 pupils per class. However, once the pandemic took shape, the Artful Attic adjusted its approach to holding classes remote for a downsized group of 20 students, and making sure young artists wouldn’t be without art supplies by delivering them free of charge to their residences.
“It was an adjustment going remote and it is a bit harder than in-person because being in class is a better experience and our children may miss out more on certain materials we have available (in the studio),” said Ryan.
Scerbo said that providing and delivering art supplies free of charge, a service Attic still does even as in-person classes are back in session, helps eliminate financial barriers between students and their masterpieces.
“When we went virtual, we wanted to cater our services and supplies to them, since art supplies can be expensive,” Scerbo said. “We know that not everyone will be able to afford art supplies or all the supplies needed for a particular class, so we want to do our best to provide the tools that our kids need to make the most out of their sessions.”
Scerbo added that the return to in-person classes are safe, as the Attic spreads out a class of 16-22 students to prevent potential spread of COVID-19 and make sure to sanitize workstations and supplies regularly.
The Artful Attic isn’t just limited to its physical Wilkinson Avenue location, as the duo also provides mobile services throughout the borough ranging from in-home classes, to sessions for local schools, in addition to providing party space for arts and crafts parties. The duo hopes to expand both its services and the scope of their students, bringing a love for art to every corner of the borough.
“Our most important thing right now is getting some specialized classes for (students) with special needs, and maybe more focused classes, for just drawing or painting,” Ryan said. “A lot of our adult friends looks for adult classes, and we would also like to go for that too, since some adults may not feel comfortable drawing with some of the kids. We are excited to be able to share a love and passion of art with anyone is interested.”
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.