The Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy in Bettendorf will close Aug. 1, 2022, and starting this August, the Beréskin Art Academy will offer its classes through the Figge Art Museum in Davenport and Family Museum in Bettendorf.
The newly branded Art Academy at the Figge will be for intermediate to advanced level students in upper elementary school through high school age. The Beginner Art Academy at the Family Museum is for beginner level students in early elementary grades. Both locations will begin their class offerings in August.
The Art Academy is designed for students to enhance their artistic skills through various teaching techniques Beréskin (aka “Mrs. B”) has perfected over the years, according to a Figge release. Students bring their most current artwork and interview with Bereskin for the ongoing academy classes that meet weekly during the school year (August-May). This allows the student to see if it is a good fit for them and Bereskin to evaluate what level is best suited for the student.
“I knew it was time for me to take a step back and think about my legacy,” Bereskin said recently. “The Figge and Family Museum are the perfect venues for my art academy to continue to thrive. I will be closing the gallery on August 1, 2022 and will be focusing on my art and teaching. I am looking forward to turning the page on this next chapter.”
Bereskin has been teaching art to children for three decades and after 28 years at the Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy, the classes will be moving locations, but the Art Academy she worked hard to build will remain intact for future generations. The gallery has been at 2967 State St., Bettendorf, since 2017.
“Pat’s hands-on approach to the Art Academy has proven to be a recipe for success,” Figge Studio School Coordinator Brian Allen said. “Students from this program have participated in local art shows and received scholarships to study art in college, so it is really exciting the Figge will continue offering this incredible opportunity for students who are passionate about art and ready for a challenge.”
“At the Family Museum, our class offerings are catered to younger students already, but the Beginner Art Academy is a more robust opportunity for young artists who want to enhance their artistic skills,” said Kim Kidwell, Family Museum Director of Culture & Recreation.
Adding to Figge offerings
In addition to the Art Academy classes, the Figge (225 W. 2nd St., Davenport) will have new class offerings ranging from one-day workshops to multi-week classes suitable for all ages throughout the year. Instructors will include those from the Beréskin Gallery and Art Academy as well as those teachers who have been teaching at the Figge.
“With her dedication to teaching and the arts, Pat is a force to be reckoned with in this community,” Figge executive director Michelle Hargrave said. “We are honored to partner with her and her instructors to expand our studio offerings and to carry forward Pat’s significant impact through the Art Academy at the Figge.”
“We do have a robust offering of classes already, but this presents a real opportunity for us to expand significantly our studio offerings. And we don’t have a program right now that is 10 months long, which is something that Pat would be offering,” Hargrave said Wednesday.
“Students have to apply for the program and be accepted and then she really helps them grow from beginning stages to the point where they’re putting together portfolios and really growing as artists,” Hargrave said. This merger is a chance for the Figge to expand its education offerings without having to hire new staff.
“She’ll be bringing instructors to the museum, and they’ll be joining our existing instructors and bringing new types of classes and we’ll be opening up a clay lab as well,” the Figge director said. “Education is one of our four pillars of our our mission and how we fulfill our mission of bringing people and art together. It’s really exciting.”
Hargrave is a fan of Bereskin’s stylish Bettendorf gallery (which previously was in the old Bucktown Center for the Arts in downtown Davenport), and said everyone is sad to see it close.
“She certainly has been a supporter of the local artists in the community and having a strong, vibrant art scene is important for any community,” she said. “But hopefully, we could find other ways to support those artists. And I’m thrilled that she’s continuing to teach — both in partnering with the Family Museum and the Figge.”
Stepping back from hectic schedule
A Bettendorf native, Bereskin credits her sight and artistic ability as gifts from God. The direction and encouragement that she received from the art teachers in Bettendorf public schools created a lifelong dream to share her gift.
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, she entered the teaching profession and has taught art to children in grades pre-K through adult. For 15 years she and her family lived in Hinsdale, Ill. In addition to creating and showing her own artwork in Chicago and the Midwest, she has been teaching art for 28 years at her own school (which began in her home), now Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy in Bettendorf.
“I was looking ahead of the things that I wanted to try to step back from,” Bereskin said Wednesday. “Maybe I didn’t have to step back totally, but would have somebody that could manage the gallery. And what I was told was, that nobody wants to work that hard. And that’s the truth.”
She teaches seven days a week, with 150 students (kindergarten through adult), and plans to scale back to about three days a week, and 80 students total. Bereskin also wants to find more time for her own painting.
The STEAM Lab that Sam McCullum operates at Bereskin’s building will move to The Family Museum.
“He’s got relationships with the Martin Luther King Center; with Big Brothers Big Sisters; with the Boys & Girls Club,” Bereskin said. “He’s got so much that kids are doing.”
McCullum is teaching a class called “Coding World” for (2nd – 5th grade) June 27-30. Through a mix of computer programming and hands-on science and engineering challenges and activities, each participant will gain valuable skills and technical experience.
Bereskin will be donating commissions from July sales of her art to student scholarships.
She also serves as an educator for the special needs and autism community artists. Besides spending the summer teaching art camps and seminars, she has been studying in Italy each summer for the past 19 years, bringing students along for 10 of those trips. The next two-week journey is this July, with 10 area high school art students.
Art from the gallery’s 45 artists will continue to be sold online after August. The Bereskin website is HERE