With four studios outfitted for sculpture, ceramics, painting, and more, Queen Village Art Center is a wonderland of art-making. The hallways double as gallery spaces, showing off students’ work. And the huge skylights on the second floor flood the entire 3,200 square-foot space with light. Housed in what was formerly the Philly AIDS Thrift building on 5th and Bainbridge Streets, every aspect of the design by Solerno Ziegler Architects was carefully considered to match the art center’s mission. “We believe that learning happens in the process, so our studios are spaces that allow for collaboration,” says founder, director and lead teacher Jill Markovitz. “They’re very open, so the creative process can be heard and seen by everybody.”
With an undergraduate degree in Art Education, a Masters of Fine Arts and two decades of teaching experience, Markovitz is deeply knowledgeable about the power of art and music education for children and adults. “I love teaching young kids, they can do so much,” she says. “Art teaches them about being in a group, being social, sharing, as well as critical fine-motor skills. Parents learn how to help their child be an out-of-box thinker.”
Markovitz opened the Fairmount Art Center in 2004, and bolstered by its success, she and her staff opened Queen Village Art Center in 2011. Both facilities offer a range of classes and activities. Adult classes such as painting foundations and experimental drawing, and crafts like sewing and jewelry making. Children’s art classes run the gamut from music classes for little babies to “Jackson Pollock Art Parties” for tweens and teens. Other programs include drop-in playgroups, art therapy, afterschool programs with pick-ups at local schools, and day camps for days when schools are closed.
“There is such a great energy having so many people from the neighborhood here to celebrate their kids’ creativity,” says Shelley Crognale, administrative director at the Queen Village Art Center. “The parents get to meet each other, exchange phone numbers, tell each other about birthday parties, stuff like that… The kids express themselves and experience each other in a different way than if they were just doing homework or kicking a ball around,” Crognale says. All three of Crognale’s children, ages 2, 8 and 10, have taken classes and attended playgroups at the Art Center.
“We’re passionate about the role art plays in community.” Markovitz says. “We just had a huge year end art show and the sense of community was so touching.”