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Friday, June 22 News

‘Awesome teacher’ heads up Art Experience

Julie Czerenda lives and breathes art.

As creative director and owner of Art Experience in New Milford, Czerenda shares her love of art education with students of all ages.

Czerenda and Francesca Morrissey, owner of Access Success, recently opened shared classroom space at 6 East St., Unit B.

A grand opening will be celebrated June 15 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The two women, who have operated their own businesses for several years, offer different services that complement each other.

“I feel inspired when (Francesca) is talking about something” and the ideas begin naturally flowing between them and, before too long, they have a concept for a new collaborative class, workshop or program, Czerenda said.

Art Experience provides after-school programs for children age 4 through high school, as well as art education, summer workshops, adult workshops such as metalworking and jewelry making, private after-school courses, and portfolio and assessment review.

Czerenda said she finds value in art and teaches with that in mind. She does not just say “Let’s paint.” She will include history, talk about artists and their mediums, and explain and explore value, form, texture and more.

She emphasized the importance of letting individuals express themselves through art, however it is released, albeit painting, journaling, drawing or other art mediums.

“We both try to meet the kids where they are,” Morrissey said of how both she and Czerenda’s philosophy.

This summer, the two businesses will team up for a two-week intensive course, “The Monsters Within,” which will examine different authors and artists — many of whom were complex and conflicted — time periods, and art and literary works.

Portfolio review consists of meeting with students who need to expand or assess their portfolio in preparation for art school admission.

Czerenda will not only meet with the student to learn about their goals and college choices, but will research the colleges to ensure the student is providing the proper submissions.

If necessary, a student can complete the necessary pieces for the portfolio at Art Experience or at their high school.

“She is an awesome teacher and person,” said Lily Sheridan of Newtown, 14, who has been taking classes with Czerenda for three years.

Karen Stevens, whose daughter Maddy, 16, described her family’s positive experience at Art Experience.

“Francesca (of Access Success) and Julie are good teachers,” she said. “They’re always very prepared for class.”

Kristin Roberts said her three children have taken classes at Art Experience for two years.

“They enjoy working with Julie and Francesca (at Access Success) and are excited to continue doing so,” Roberts said of her family’s experience with the business.

Czerenda, who holds a degree in art education, taught art in a few schools before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

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Having grown up with a love of art, she eventually found her way back into the field.

She started a business, Hearts Desire, through which she sold jewelry to a variety of shops and boutiques in the area.

Eventually, things took a positive turn when her daughter began dancing at FineLine Theater Arts in town. She was approached by the owners, Elizabeth Parkinson and Scott Weiss, to see if she would be interested in offering art classes for people waiting for FineLine classes.

Immediately, everything began to blossom.

James, son of Parkinson and Weiss, was Czerenda’s first student.

Ten years ago, during her first year, while working out of a kitchen space at FineLine on Railroad Street, Czerenda shared her love of art with six after-school students.

Over the years, word of Czerenda’s talent spread. She was sought for Girl Scout activities, birthday parties and other art-related gatherings.

“It wasn’t art on a cart, it was art in a car,” she quipped of the early years of Art Experience, then known as Visual Art Experience at FineLine.

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