VisArts’ gallery, by Ann Witmer
A few miles north of Bethesda, a community arts center offers meeting participants a way to roll up their sleeves and take part in Bethesda’s arts scene and have fun doing it.
VisArts’s contemporary building has three art galleries and a concourse of studios that can be used for events.
But the real fun is one floor up during evening workshops such as Cocktails and Canvas, and Mud and Merlot.
Groups, fortified by a glass of wine, can mold clay, design glass or beautify canvases. Lisa Gallant, the education director, calls it team building.
“Groups can decorate preformed clay mugs or work with lumps of clay. Or they can create a design with shards of glass that we fuse to form small trays,” she said.
Some groups make mosaic mirrors, some paint on lightly sketched canvases while others make collages called Canvas Creations using a trove of papers and pictures, stickers and tchotchkes.
A group can come up with a theme, such as increasing productivity or how to make work less stressful, and individuals can create montages that express their views on the matter.
Or each member of a group can interpret the theme abstractly and make a fused-glass square. The squares can be arranged around a mirror, which could become part of an office’s decor.
It takes 90 minutes to three hours to complete a project, but it takes several days to fire clay and glass projects in a kiln, so they have to be shipped to the participants later.
Gallant will send advance information to groups that plan to take part in VisArt’s activities so they can think through their designs.
“That’s what takes the longest in these sessions. If people know what their design will be, we move along more quickly and have more fun.”