How do you know winter is over at the Riverside Arts Center? SPRING CLASSES are starting next week at the RAC! The very talented, Shawn Vincent, RAC School Manager, has put together a fun roster of classes for kids and adults this spring. In case you didn’t know, Shawn received a B.S. degree from Western Illinois University with majors in both Fine Art and Biology. Her true passion is clay, although she is now exploring the art of glass blowing and fusing. Shawn has worked in and taught ceramics for over nineteen years. She has exhibited her pottery at various galleries and venues throughout the Chicagoland area and her work is collected nationwide.

I have taken ceramics classes at both the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and with Shawn at the RAC and I can attest to her amazing teaching talent. If you take a class with her you will get top-notch instruction for a very reasonable price.

There are a lot of fantastic classes being offered at the RAC by a very creative staff. There is Mother’s Day Spa workshop with Tami Gagne, Cartooning with Marianne Poulus, Mixed Media Free Build with Mr. T, Storytime and Silliness with Clay with Shawn Vincent, Ceramic Patio and Garden Art with Theresa Paris, Tactile Art – Adult Clay Studio with Mike Zilka, 2-D Open Studio with Tom McDonald and and Girly Paper Designs with yours truly, Kathleen Thometz. Check out the RAC Website for even more class and workshop offerings!

If you have not stopped by the Freeark Gallery for the latest show, Osmia by Noelle Allen, you must see her amazing work! It is a garden, growth and fauna-inspired art show running until April 26th. In case you didn’t know, Osmia lignaria, known as the orchard mason bee, creates its nests in reeds and natural holds and makes dividers out of mud. Ms. Allen has certainly been busy as a bee creating a massive wall sculpture, hanging pieces and spectacular orbs in the garden.

Another sign of spring are the chicks hatching at the RAC. No, they are not real ones but ceramic trophies that will be awarded after the judging of the RAC’s 2nd Annual Peeps Diorama Contest, In The News. Stop by the Riverside Public Library on April 4th and check out these dioramas that depict top news stories of the past year. For those of you who created a diorama, the RAC will be collecting them on Thursday, April 3rd from 5:00-7:00 P. M. at the Riverside Public Library. They will be displayed until April 17th. On April 10th, winners will be announced and the hand-made trophies will be awarded.

The Riverside Arts Center will once again be running the Community Art tent during the RAW Weekend on May 17th and 18th. This year the RAC will be hosting Hats as Wearable Sculpture, a hat-making extravaganza. They will be creating fun and whacky hats out of paper! The sky is the limit with these sculptural chapeaus! Children and families are welcome to this free event. You will be able to wear your creation around town and to Flicker, RAW’s unique fashion show.

Also at the RAW, will be the RAC Teacher’s Art Tent. Come check out and purchase the work of the RAC’s very talented and creative teaching staff!

Speaking of the RAW Weekend, the Riverside Arts Center’s flamboyant evening fundraiser has been moved to October! If you didn’t go to last year’s Promorama, you missed a fun and fabulous evening. The good news is that you’ll have more time to put together your finery for the festivities in the fall. This year’s event promises to be even better than last year! Stay tuned…

While we’re on the topic of parties, did you know that the Riverside Arts Center rents out it’s gallery and sculpture garden for small events and parties? It is reasonably priced and you can have your celebration during an art show. Just don’t break anything or you buy it as the saying goes!

As you know, the RAC is eternally grateful for all of the people who choose to support them by becoming members and making donations.

They would love to thank Mr. Singh from Hauser Junior High, who has worked with students to create a design for the back fence of the RAC. This fence has been a bit of an eyesore so this will be a welcome change, especially for all of the folks riding the train. The dynamic painted panels will be installed in time for the RAW Weekend.

Another shout out to Riverside Resident Joyce Van Curo of the P.E.O. Chapter CH for the monetary and computer donation she made in honor of Ruth Freeark.

If you are in downtown Riverside, stop in and see all of the amazing things going on at the RAC and the Freeark Gallery!

Kathleen Thometz is an artist, writer and board member of the Riverside Arts Center. She lives with her husband, kids and doodle dogs. You can experience more about her at

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...