Quick: Name three living artists.
Matt Ross, founder and CEO of One River School of Art + Design, bets you can’t.
That’s why he started a chain that he likes to think makes art “cool,” by basing projects on contemporary living artists and artists of the past 50 years to teach techniques and inspire creativity. “To make it more relevant, we’ve made it more current,” Ross says.
One River just opened in a storefront in Manhasset — it’s 15th location in six states and its third on Long Island. One River already has schools in Port Jefferson Station and Woodbury. The extracurricular after school and weekend classes cater to preschool through adult.
One River School of Art + Design
WHEN | WHERE Classes are once per week for 60 or 90 minutes between 4 and 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays. 1504 Northern Blvd., Manhasset.
COST Students sign up by the month for $185 to $210, with a $35 annual fee.
MORE INFO 516-447-3660, manhasset.oneriverschool.com
Yoonjin Han, 45, a stay-at-home mom in Manhasset, says she signed her daughter, Elina Choi, 10, up when she heard about One River opening close to their house. "She enjoys a lot to draw and make things at home," Han says. Elina recently had her first class. "She told me it was so great," Han says.
SAME FOUNDER AS ‘SCHOOL OF ROCK’
Ross started One River School 11 years ago after acting as startup CEO and helping to grow School of Rock into a national chain to teach students music. He’s used the same formula for One River School, he says.
If School of Rock had been based on only long-dead musicians such as Beethoven, students “wouldn’t have had the Rolling Stones,” he says. By the same token, he doesn’t want students at One River School to focus only on Picasso or van Gogh. “We might write a lesson plan about an artist inspired by van Gogh,” he says.
Ross chose the name One River School because he launched the first school in northern New Jersey, where he lives, and he says he wanted to bring Manhattan quality culture to the suburbs that were just one river crossing away. While New Jersey is across the Hudson River, the name works for Long Islanders as well, he says, who have to transverse the East River to get to Manhattan.
SYMMETRY AND SKETCHING
The school’s most popular class is called the Art Shuffle, says Shantaye McMorrow, who is assistant director of education and teaches classes for the school. It’s curated for each age group, she says, and every four to six weeks the project changes.
The first project the third to fifth graders are working on teaches bilateral symmetry, which involves making something that matches on both sides, McMorrow says. For that lesson, students focus on the work of Shivangi Chowdhry. “She does a lot of work photographing bugs and drawing them. Insects are good subject matter for bilateral symmetry,” McMorrow says. Students should be inspired by Chowdhry’s accuracy in terms of insect anatomy and her use of vibrant color palettes, McMorrow says. Then students use pastels to color their work.
For the first project, teens start with a sketchbook and learn how sketching is used to create finished artwork, McMorrow says. Their lesson focuses on Brooklyn artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988.
ONLY ONE MONTH COMMITMENT
There’s more to the classes than making the physical creations, McMorrow says. They also involve what McMorrow calls the ideation process. “Each time students start a new project, they engage in a brainstorming session,” she says.
The classes are also social, Ross says, allowing students to interact with others their age who have a passion for art.
Though children are the main students in the school, classes are offered for adults as well. “When you live in the suburbs where I live, we raise kids and it’s so focused on that generation,” he says. He urges adults to think about their own personal development as well.
One River offers more than 40 class options, including painting, drawing and mixed media. The classes push students to get out of their artistic comfort zone, he says. “What we like to do is challenge them to do things they wouldn’t do at home,” Ross says.
PLUS: LONG-STANDING ART
The iSchool of Music & Art has been in Syosset for more than 15 years, and its art classes are named for the masters — the school offers two art programs, Petite Picasso for ages 5 to 10 and Monet and Matisse, for ages 8 and older.
"Being exposed to the Picassos and the Monets … it's really building upon a foundation," says art director Anne Kahn. "I like to see art as problem solving. Using different materials and being exposed to different artists and different techniques, students begin to acquire their own original work. In turn, that gives them a self-esteem boost."
The after-school art classes include practical background on artists, techniques and history, says school director David Swanson. The school has twice yearly art exhibitions to showcase student art work.
The art program sometimes collaborates with the school's music program, for instance at a recent concert students in the art program created tie-dyed shirts to wear at the event.
The school is at 14A Cold Spring Rd. in Syosset. 516-802-5885, ischoolmusicart.com.