Art History

Pamplin Media Group – Art in the Old Town: The Sherwood studio is still busy after 15 years | Pro Club Bd

Artist and educator Ann Brucker’s passion and agility keeps her program’s legacy alive.

Ann Brucker recalls the disappointment she felt as a 4-year-old girl trying to paint on canvas for the first time. She looked forward to the satisfaction of applying cadmium red to white canvas, but got a pathetic drizzle of pale pink instead.

She later discovered that her mother had given her tempera paints—a beginner medium used primarily for craft projects and not always ideal for canvas.

Years later, when Brucker founded the Mosaic Arts Loft in Sherwood, she made it her mission to develop a curriculum that would not only provide her young students with the fundamental building blocks they needed to achieve their desired results, but also the possibility of “adult” mediums and techniques normally reserved for advanced students.

“Young students can paint with oils and with acrylics — you know, all the art mediums that adults use,” she said. “It’s part of my passion that comes through there.”

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Ann Brucker is the owner of Mosaic Arts Loft in Sherwood.

No perfect art allowed

Since 2006, Mosaic has served as a studio, classroom and gallery space for artists of all ages to not only learn basic building blocks like color theory and shapes, but also to develop their own personal style.

The art space is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, making it one of the longest-running businesses in downtown Sherwood, according to Renee Brouse, chief executive officer of the Sherwood Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brucker credits the arts center’s longevity to the fact that their curriculum encourages students to grow with the program, rather than confining their artistic development to just a class or two.

For Charlotte Rebenstorf, 17, mosaic has been an integral part of her artistic development since fifth grade.

One of Brucker’s rules for new students is that “no perfect art” is allowed, and instead of cultivating an environment in which art is criticized, she instead gives her students the language to express what results they wish to see in their art . PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The students' artworks are on display in the Mosaic Arts Loft.

Rebenstorf said the learning environment at Mosaic is part of the reason she has stayed with the program for so long.

“It’s really easy to create a great environment,” said the Sherwood High School senior. “She’s pushing you very nicely and very well where you’re still growing but it’s still very fun. You have this freedom to sort of decide where you want to go with your artistic career.”

Rebenstorf began the program working primarily with clay, but over the years she has turned more to drawing and painting, winning several awards in both mediums over the years.

“It’s been really cool to see (all of my work) paying off through the competition and it’s been very cool to see my work work out in this way,” she said.

Rebenstorf is now considering studying art history.

Brucker says she takes a special interest in her students’ careers after they graduate from the program, whether they return to Mosaic as teachers or use their talents elsewhere.

“I just want[the knowledge]to be out there,” Brucker said, “so we can just raise the level of all of our art and creation.”PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Catherine Jordan, 11, works on her project at the Mosaic Arts Loft.

Stay agile through COVID-19

Classic art education in the West encourages beginners to draw from life rather than from a photograph that captures just a fleeing movement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic limited opportunities for in-person meetings, Brucker knew she had to be nimble to keep her program alive, so like any other school, she made the switch to online learning. Additional steps had to be taken to ensure that their virtual classes would have the same impact as their in-person classes.

“Before we rolled this out, we realized we needed to outfit them with an art studio at home — so we bought art supplies, easels, and storage bags to give to all our students,” Brucker told Pamplin Media in 2020.

Sara Leonard joined Mosaic in 2020 as an online student. Leonard doesn’t have much experience teaching art online, and says she was encouraged by the extra time and effort Brucker put into answering questions in a way that was easy for her to understand.

“She could make you look at what you were drawing differently,” Leonard said. “That you look at each individual part and then as a whole.”

Now, after two years with the program, Leonard looks forward to seeing her grow with Mosaic.

“I’m really excited to have this community in the studio,” she said. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Delaney Smith, a Mosaic Arts Loft employee, carries bowls made by students that she will apply a glaze to.

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