Too Cool for Art School

10 Places for a DIY Arts Education

by Mary Menzemer

The act of learning the arts comes in all shapes and sizes-here are some cool places for you to expand upon your arts knowledge or to try that thing you have always wanted to (even Irish dancing).


The Art Center on Tusc (ACoT) – 571 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton
With an open gallery floor plan, as well as smaller studios available for rent, this brand new arts center in Barberton is sure to quickly become a hotspot for up-and-coming artists. ACoT offers both winter and spring workshops as well as opportunities to work with local artists on their creative projects. Other perks of this place include the proximities of the elegant Nine Muses Art Gallery and Kave Coffee Bar.


Akron Center for Art, Music and Performance (ACAMP) – 118 W. Market St., Akron
ACAMP is Akron’s newest arts center which hosts a variety of events and workshops ranging from live music, live theatre and wine and canvas nights. You can even take yoga classes from trained professionals. Located above The Time Traveler record store, ACAMP brings together a wealth of art and wellness that truly make it a gem of Akron.


photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

Akron Glass Works 106 North Main St, Akron
Glassblowing seems like an art unobtainable to those who are underexposed to it. However, at Akron Glass Works, you can watch free demos and even partake in workshops if you’re interested. Last month, folks made their own glass ornaments for the holiday season. The next workshop schedule will be available in mid-January, so keep an eye out for the next cool thing you could make for your home.


photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

Cuyahoga Valley Arts Center – 2131 Front St, Cuy Falls
CVAC offers classes in watercolor, collage making, portraiture, oil painting, pottery, calligraphy, printmaking, and even journaling. The workshops are designed for all skill levels. This Swiss Army knife of an arts center is also a mini art gallery and artists café, to which any artist can submit their work. Entrance to the café is free of charge to the public.


Jack Richard Studios – 2250 Front St, Cuy Falls
The legacy of the late Jack Richard, commissioned to paint portraits of famous people such as Bob Hope, Arnold Palmer, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Bing Crosby, lives on at his studio in Cuyahoga Falls. Richard’s former protégé, Mark Giangaspero teaches classes here. For the hardy artistic individual who’s inspired by more classic pieces, this is the place to be.


MacConmara Academy of Irish Dance – 2760 S. Arlington Rd, Akron
No, it isn’t too late to try your hand, or foot, at the classically inspired art of Irish dancing. Not a child? Don’t have a history of dance lessons? No problem. Adult classes are offered on Wednesdays, and are taught by a staff with impressive resumes — many of whom who have qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships. The academy puts on shows throughout Akron as well such as for First Night and for the Akron Symphony’s Celtic Nights.
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Martell School of Dance – 788 W. Market St., Akron
Looking at this studio from below in Highland Square, this school seems hardly big enough to host as much as they do. Martell packs a lot into a small package-beginner to advanced level classes for kids and adults in dance styles like ballet, jazz, modern, tap, lyrical, musical theatre, fusion, yoga fusion, and Pilates. Private instruction is also available upon request.


Palladian Palette106 N. Main St., Akron
This quaint venue offers canvas and wood palette painting classes. You’ll also find a little shop called The Stamp Pad, fully stocked with all the stamping equipment one could want. You can even host private parties here.  The real attraction may be its BYOB policy, which means you can kick back with wine while you draw inspiration during a three-hour painting lesson with a local artist.


Quirk Cultural Center – 1201 Grant Ave., Cuy Falls
The Quirk Cultural Center offers a smorgasbord of activities, from the elusive art of chair caning to mahjong, bocce and ceramics classes. You’ll have the opportunity to learn how to use stains, glazes and firing tools all for $5 per class. It’s a large venue with seating for 200 in their banquet room with many … quirks. For seniors and older folks, there’s the chance to get involved with the Falls Travel Club, a group who travels to cool events like holiday concerts, comedy performances, and trips across the country.


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photo courtesy of

Riverfront Ballroom and Latin Dance Center – 137 Portage Trl., Cuy Falls
The true charm of this place comes from not only the traditional dance classes one can take such as waltz, foxtrot, and the tango, but those of more foreign influence like salsa, rumba, cha-cha, mambo and bolero. The Riverfront offers private and group lessons as well as practice parties to brush up on the week’s dance moves in a low pressure setting. Group classes are also pretty affordable, ranging from $5 to $10 per person.
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Weathervane Playhouse – 1301 Weathervane Ln., Akron
Acting classes are great for getting out of one’s everyday comfort zone. At Weathervane, one can take either youth or adult acting classes and even participate in performances upon completion. Lessons available include Shakespeare, improvisation, comic timing, actor’s voice, and even public speaking.


Mary Menzemer is mostly uncoordinated, but pretends she’s graceful when sliding around the floor in socks.  


(Featured image of Ingrid Westberg courtesy of