DENVILLE, NJ -- The staff of Art Classes with Mary Shadbolt, LLC, located in downtown Denville, celebrated the art school's second anniversary on Sat., Oct. 10.

“The fact that my ‘little art school that could’ is celebrating two years, it’s amazing,” said Mary Kamphausen Shadbolt, owner of the studio.

“Seeing that anniversary milestone creep closer on the calendar was the perfect incentive to really work hard over those COVID closures. It is a special sense of pride to see my dream realized. Two years makes it feel like my roots have ‘taken’ and it's official.”

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Shadbolt developed her passion for art at the age of three. With a bachelor of fine arts degree in illustration and a triple minor in art history, drawing and photography, Shadbolt has created, sold, and exhibited her artwork across the East Coast for more than 30 years.

Along with creating art, Shadbolt also has a passion for teaching art. She has taught art since 2001, eventually receiving a grant from the Dodge Foundation to create art and music lessons in collaboration with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

“Knowing the worth exhibiting artwork can bring as an artist, I also made it a personal mission to bring as many of those opportunities to my students,” said Shadbolt.

“During my years as a middle school art teacher, I became the chair of Youth Art Month in Bergen County and created a partnership with IKEA, empowering schools to exhibit their work in the community, allowing thousands of people to experience the incredible work being created in the art rooms.”

“Organizing and assembling an exhibition space at the local IKEA in Paramus, my first year as chair had 11 schools participate in the program. Three years later, it had grown to 62. This is something I’ve brought to my own business. Each six-week course ends with an art exhibition where my students proudly invite friends, family and neighbors. This empowers my artists to grow not just creatively, but personally and emotionally as they learn to discuss their work and graciously accept compliments.”

Art Classes with Mary started in 2018 and has seen many forms. When Shadbolt decided to start teaching art, she started small with a few classes near the holidays.

“Once I started, I knew I had to keep going until I finally opened my own school,” said Shadbolt.

“I added more events, created a website and took on more private students. Then I added workshops for adults and teaching at large parties. As I continued to grow, I taught in people's kitchens or backyards, local cafés, a preschool meeting space, bakery party room, even an exercise studio after hours.”

Shadbolt eventually found the dream location on East Main Street in downtown Denville. Today, the studio offers class for both children and adults, while also hosting community art events, workshops and painting parties.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Art Classes with Mary saw 60-150 artists come through in a week. Nowadays, classes are limited to seven artists at a time. Classes, painting parties and scout workshops are offered virtually.

Despite small numbers, Shadbolt, while being supported by her husband Matthew and daughter Emma, could not be happier to still be in operation, doing what she loves most.

“I am forever thankful to my artists and families for trusting me to guide them on their artistic journey,” said Shadbolt.

“The support they showed while I was closed was immense and comforting. Now that I have finally reopened, I am thrilled to be back. Not everyone gets to do what they love for a living. We still have a long road ahead of us, but nothing tops the creative energy of being in an art studio full of artists happy and creating!”

New classes are anticipated for adults and students in kindergarten to eighth grades, in-person and virtually, during the week of Oct. 10. Shadbolt also has a new project forthcoming, the “Work of the HeART” mission, which combines art with community and helps young artists see how they can give back to others through kindness. This includes delivering art kits to local families in December.

“Giving back and community service are big parts of who I am and the message I teach, plus we all know, art is therapeutic,” said Shadbolt.

“Friends and neighbors can sponsor an art kit for child patients at the local hospitals. I provide the tote and their sponsorship fills it with art supplies. The art kits allow the patients to stretch their imaginations, art journal their feelings and create decor for their walls, personalizing their space. Plus, it shows how community rallies together to show love and support. I make deliveries twice a year, in July and for the holidays. This December will mark the eighth year.”

 

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