by Katherine Cain –
Nestled on the bottom of Main Street in the village of Irvington is the newly opened Art XO Studio, a family-owned and operated studio that offers walk-ins (pay-to-play opportunities to express one’s self artistically), as well as classes and camps for the whole family, with a focus on kids and teens. The studio’s soft opening was during the month, but the grand opening and ribbon cutting took place at the end of July. The purple painted floor is already speckled with colorful splashes of paint and clusters of glitter. Owners Kristina Schmidt and her aunt Melissa Gilbert wouldn’t have it any other way.
Both women are longtime Irvington residents, each a mother of three who is often at the studio helping out. Kristina’s background is in business and marketing, with art acting as a lifelong side passion, and Melissa has always worked as a teacher, currently teaching kids with developmental disabilities at Ferncliff Manor, a school for children with developmental disabilities in Yonkers. “I feel like we are a dynamic duo,” Gilbert says of her niece.
While the bread and butter of most art studios are the walk-ins, ($10 for two hours at Art XO, plus the cost of canvas, frame, box, or whatever is painted) Art XO has several other plans in the works. One of these is Artxercise, a class for kids aged three to 12 which will use both large and fine motor skills in a movement based creative experience that combines both art and sport. Art XO will also offer camps during the last two weeks of August, drop-off classes for kids aged three and up, space for customizable birthday parties and special events, and they are in the stages of planning an evening teen scene class for 13-16 year olds as well as adult classes.
Schmidt and Gilbert are excited to develop additional classes and workshops down the line. They will be starting a ‘Kindness Rocks Irvington’ Campaign, which will consist of people painting rocks, adding a symbol or message, then hiding the rock. The idea is that whoever then finds the rock receives a jolt of inspiration and positivity from the message. The campaign will begin this summer with an Art XO booth at the Irvington Farmers Market.
Another important aspect for Schmidt and Gilbert is to keep the studio community based, and to that end they want to ensure they are providing what the community wants. “We are taking ideas,” Schmidt says. “If anybody wants to have a certain kind of class hosted they can let us know. Anything that promotes imagination and creativity, we are all about it.”