Order a set of three colored hearts from Old Town Artisan Studios in La Quinta for your favorite Valentine.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OLD TOWN ARTISAN STUDIOS
Three years ago, Thomas Burns saw an ad for the executive director post at Old Town Artisan Studios in La Quinta. He was at a crossroads and the prospect of living in Greater Palm Springs had always appealed to him.
“I have to tell you, it was such a good fit for me because it's kept me in the art world but it allows me to give back to the community,” says Burns.
Burns wants you to find your own part of the art world as well. Created just this year for Valentine’s Day, Old Town Artisan Studios is selling three ceramic hearts for $150 to give to that special person during a time when most of us could use a boost.
“There's just, in my opinion, so much negativity going on in the world,” Burns says. “And then we're dealing with COVID and for me, it was a combination of addressing what was happening in the world. And then also the fact that we were just reopening, we needed to get people back in and start to take classes.”
One of the hearts in the set of three actually allows you to gift a class to the recipient. That’s the pink heart. The Purple Heart is Old Town Artisan Studios’ way of saying thanks to you, and the red heart is for someone special, maybe even a total stranger. An attached note to the red heart says, “I just wanted you to know you are loved by someone, and I wanted to share my heart with you.”
Burns chats more about the Valentine's Day heart set with Palm Springs Life and how it serves Old Town Artisan Studios’ mission.
Who made the hearts you are selling?
The hearts were made by our staff and our instructors, and so they were done here, cut out and glazed, and each one is handwritten.
How do the proceeds from the hearts help Old Town Artisan Studios?
iIt pays for our outreach program. We go throughout the Coachella Valley all year round. When we're able to do face-to-face classes, we do the Boys and Girls Clubs, all the YMCAs. We do the after-school programs. We basically have two mobile art vans.
Our mission is really to make sure that we maintain art in people's lives. So we have two mobile art vans that we can basically put an entire art department in and travel. We can go and do the entire clay class, anywhere in the valley. And we do actually. So the proceeds basically pay for that program. During COVID, we have been building these art-to-go kits where, since we can't do face-to-face instruction, we put the kits together and then we hand them out in mask distribution centers. Some of our larger distributions have been through Find Food Bank. We give them 3,000 art kits a month, and then they distribute them during their food lines.
That's a great idea.
Yes, it's putting art into the hands of people that really can't afford to go out and buy the paints and materials for their kids.
Are you doing any virtual classes at this point?
We are just starting. We have an adult special needs class that has been the backbone of the mission here for the last 10 years. And so that was the first class that we put online. So that's just an existing class that we had, and then I've just worked through the City of La Quinta and we're putting together a senior art program that will be open to the general public. And that is starting the first week in March.
What kind of role art can play to help people through the pandemic?
We have a paint your own pottery studio here, so people can come in — we have a huge campus — and get your own table and spend a couple hours here pinning the pottery here. And then we just glaze it, fire it, and then a week later they can come pick it up. When you take your mind off of some of the issues that are going on in your own personal life, art transports you into a different place. And although it can't be medically proven or scientifically proven, but art just has such a relieving effect on people's minds. So it helps them reduce the amount of stress that people are going through these days. At least I feel that way.