By Haj Herbert
Owner, Magical Minds Studio
Stretching from Austin to Ridgeland, the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street has become a paradise for Oak Parkers interested in the arts. With shops and galleries featuring everything from music to sculpture to painting to fiber arts, the Arts District offers a variety of unique gems.
Since I decided to open Magical Minds Studio on this street, I’ve also seen the area grow into a hub for for children and young adults to explore their growing creativity.
In 2008, Magical Minds Studio opened its doors at 343 Harrison Street, right across from Musikgarten, an early childhood music school. Musikgarten owner Amy Pappageorge was no stranger to my family—my children had been taking her classes for years. We never considered ourselves competitors because we loved what we offered the community.
Magical Minds Studio has evolved over the years to accommodate the needs of the community. We provide quality art programming by art educators and working artists. From preschool to after school workshops, we make sure each child is able to tap into their inner artist and benefit from the Studio. Just recently, by demand of our community, we’ve added ceramic and adult art classes to our list of programming. We are now the only studio in Southeast Oak Park to offer ceramic classes to the public. We value family time and for this reason we offer parent-child ceramic classes on the weekends. In our busy lives, it’s vital to stop and spend time with our children but also to be creative with them.
As a parent, I’m always looking for quality children’s arts programming and Harrison Street has a plethora of it.
M.G. Bertulfo, writer and owner of Taleblazers, has created a space for young authors to practice creative writing. The goal of Taleblazers is to make writing fun for kids. She focuses on the creative process, encouraging young writers to take artistic risks, and follow their intuition. What’s even better is that Bertulfo shares her studio with published children’s author Sallie Wolf, owner of the art gallery Calypso Moon. Children are drawn to the cozy space and introduced to a variety of writing tools, including ink and feathers!
Further east on Harrison, parents of little dancers can swing over to Intuit Dance Studio, where owner Diane Vanderhei opened her doors in 2006. At Intuit, children expand their creative potential while becoming proficient in their movement skills and dance technique.
Recently, the Arts District welcomed Meg Lanfear, violinist and owner of Oak Park String Academy. Ms. Lanfear has been teaching since 2005 and provides violin and cello classes to young children under the Suzuki philosophy.
Pamela Penney Textile Arts is home to one of Oak Park’s most talented fiber artists, owner and artist Pamela Penney. At her studio, students can design and sew their very own creations. Penney offers private and group classes for wide range of ages.
Not too far from Penney’s shop, you will find the only bead shop in town, Bead in Hand. Newly owned by Kim Humphrey, this bead shop has wall-to-wall beads and supplies for just about any bead project you or your child can imagine. Best of all, they offer birthday parties and classes for younger students.
If you’re feeling hungry and have kids in tow, you can get your belly fed at the Buzz Cafe. It’s not only kid friendly but environmentally conscious. Owners Andrew and Laura Maychruk do their best to provide quality organic, farm-raised food to our community, some of which comes from their own garden out back.
If your children find it hard to choose from all the arts options on Harrison Street, they’re not alone. That’s why we offer Wonder Camp in the summer, in which kids get the opportunity to try programs at different arts district businesses each day.
While some arts districts in other towns are designed strictly for serious buyers and collectors, we on Harrison Street want the arts to be accessible to people of all ages. Come take a stroll through the Oak Park Arts District and see what we have to offer!