Room 102 at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center has been buzzing with creativity and laughter every Wednesday during Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association’s (DNDA) watercolor mixed-media art classes.
DNDA’s Art team started offering watercolor classes free to the community in fall 2023 in hopes the activity would bring neighbors together. Our team’s hopes were exceeded when the classes filled week after week with excited locals, ranging from 2- to 72-year-olds.
“I have been amazed at the ways people have been willing to take the watercolor invitations in their own directions, inspiring the people around them to do the same,” said Erin Kollar, DNDA’s art programs manager. “I am deeply grateful for the people who continue to come back each week — they give me hope for sustained community building through Youngstown in the future.”
The art studio at Youngtown quickly transformed into a calming space brimming with creativity, allowing participants to step outside of their comfort zones and try something new each week, while making new friends. DNDA owns and operates Youngstown, and, after programming was paused during the coronavirus pandemic, the team has been thrilled to see it come back to life with each new piece of art.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this class,” said one participant, who is retired. “Not only does it get me out of the house, but it also gives me a space to let go of pressure and play a little bit. That can be hard to come by in adulthood.”
Classes in 2023 combined watercolor with a wide range of mixed-media elements, including making prints, creating accordion booklets, designing collages, making personalized stamps, and more. This year, our Art team will revisit some crowd favorites and introduce new creative explorations.
All activities are designed for beginners and attendees with different levels of experience. Erin, who has been leading the classes, starts each session by teaching basic watercolor painting and other techniques. After giving students time to practice and introducing the mixed-media element, she encourages participants to explore their new skills to create projects they can bring home, admire, and share.
The watercolor classes are donations-based, allowing community members from all walks of life to attend and give as they are able. All proceeds are put back into the program to help sustain the free art supplies and tea provided by DNDA. In 2023, watercolor class participants donated about $200, for which DNDA is extremely grateful.
Any remaining funds go toward future community art classes at Youngstown. The Art team is currently collaborating with the artists who live upstairs at Youngstown in DNDA’s artist housing program to design new art programs, which will roll out later this year. The watercolor classes are the first of a long-term effort by DNDA to reinvigorate Youngstown and make artistic exploration more accessible to our communities.
The building houses other community organizations, including Arts Corps. Outside organizations also utilize Youngstown’s rental spaces — from classrooms to the theater — for dance classes, performances, art exhibits, and more. DNDA’s events calendar is viewable at dnda.org/events, and rental spaces are listed at dnda.org/art/youngstown/rental-spaces/.
Visit dnda.org/art to sign up for the next watercolor mixed-media art class before spots fill up, and while you’re there, take a look at the other programs our Art team has to offer for our community members. Watercolor classes are every Wednesday, 6-8pm, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106). See you there!
– Written by DNDA’s Art Programs Manager Erin Kollar