“No Art Experience Required” for New Entertainment Option
Story by Emily Guerrero, PWL Editor in Chief | Photos by Kathy Strauss, ImageWerks
The newly opened Cheers Art Studio offers a place to unwind, gather with friends and unleash your inner artist. In no particular order. The event and art space, located at 13665 Minnieville Road in Woodbridge, is the brainchild of Gina Impoco-Hunt, whose background is in marketing and event coordination. Local artists Donna Merchant, Cary Michael Robinson and Amanda Cole lead the group classes that are more about helping people to connect with and through art, than about technique or form.
“Although we live in an area with a large population and tons of amenities, there aren’t many options for entertainment. I hope that our studio will add to the sense of community in Prince William County by creating a fun, local option,” said Impoco-Hunt. “There are similar establishments in D.C. and in other parts of Northern Virginia, so I think it’s time that our area has its own venue.”
On opening night, Feb. 21, students included couples, friends enjoying a “girl’s night out” and at least one woman who said she was new to the area and wanted to meet people. Many participants had brought along wine, beer and snacks.
Gerri Reid, who had learned of the event from her sister, had come from Fredericksburg. “[Cheers] is a way to do something different with friends, family, spouses. … [You] get tired of going to the movies or out to eat. This is something fun,” said Reid, adding that it was easy to get to from I-95.
While the class was given a sample painting of a black tree on an orange background as a guide, along with techniques for achieving that look, there was no pressure to conform. Merchant, who led the inaugural class, said, “The emphasis is on being creative, unique. All paintings shouldn’t look the same.”
She also encouraged students to walk around the room, interact and get inspired by one another. By the end of the evening, a number of variations could be found. These included blue backgrounds with white trees and even couples who coordinated so that their paintings were two-halves of a whole. “I’m so proud,” exclaimed Merchant several times as she viewed the students’ creations.
“It’s a good, no-pressure environment,” said Aimee Brown of Port Potomac, who noted that up until now, her art was limited to stick figures. She said she plans to hang her new artwork in her home, and to return to Cheers in March with a social group she belongs to, Port Potomac Moms.
“You made me like a real artist,” exclaimed Kristi Ellison of Woodbridge as she stepped back to view her work. She had come into Cheers thinking that art was “great for other people.” Now, she said, “I’m excited. I want to come do it again.”
Impoco-Hunt said that Cheers is a fun alternative for events such as bachelorette and birthday parties and corporate team-building. She added that as the studio grows she will add more group classes and private events. “We are also in the process of partnering with several local charity organizations for fundraising events. In the future we anticipate adding additional options such as art camp for children during school breaks,” said Impoco-Hunt.
In addition to adult classes on weekend evenings, Cheers offers children’s classes during the daytime. The price is $35 per person for adult classes and $25 per person for children’s classes. Cost includes all materials. Advanced registration is required. Learn more and view the full schedule at cheersartstudio.com.