With Arts & Entertainment Editor Kathy L. Collins

The Campo Family YMCA is about more than just physical fitness. The Campo Family YMCA offers an art class for adults 17 years and older. The group meets every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Campo Family YMCA located at 3414 Culbreath Rd. in Valrico.

The art group has been meeting for more than 15 years. They continued to meet even after their long-time instructor, Minette Webster, passed away. The art group is now led by Art Instructor, Jennifer Hand. “My goal in teaching this class is to encourage creativity,” said Hand.

This is a very diverse group of artists. Some of them have been artists for a long time, while some of them dabbled in art and others took up art upon retirement.
Hand has a bachelor’s degree in art and education and a master’s degree in art integration. She teaches all art media including basic watercolor, acrylic landscapes and portraits. The group works on one to two projects per month. They are currently working on abstracts. Hand said, “It is hard for older adults to think in abstracts. They tend to want to draw what they see. This requires a whole different way of thinking.”

The next project will be a favorite of the group. They will work on portraits for the Memory Project. This is a non-profit that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges such as violence and natural disasters.

The group participates in the Memory Project every January. Hand said, “It is a very moving experience.” Hand added, “The members of the group did not think that they could do this. However, after working on it for a month, they find that they can in fact create a portrait.”

Gretchen Elizabeth, a resident of Lithia, has been attending the group for two years. “The class is so varied. Jennifer is so talented in teaching us,” said Elizabeth.

Susan Starnes from Brandon has been creating art with the group for five years. Starnes said, “We just love Jennifer. She has so much integrity. She is conscientious in teaching.”

The art class at the Campo Family YMCA is a fee based class and fees vary. For more information, please contact Kavita Marballi at 684-1371 ext. 1606.