A space of their own
Seed Studio helps nurture kids' creativity, also giving parents some time off

A space of their own
Kathleen O'Connor - 09/29/2022

Art, yoga, nature and presence. These are just a few of Seed Studio’s favorite things. And to celebrate the local nonprofit art school’s 11th year, founders Kathryn Samaltanos and Heidi Craw have woven together an anniversary event encompassing these favorite things for the enjoyment of all.

Seed Studio’s “Paint N Sip” event will be held this Saturday at the Smiley Building and will feature family-friendly activities that capture the studio’s overarching embrace of mindfulness, creativity and self-expression.

The fundraising event welcomes all in the community to attend – whether you’ve taken a class or not – and will begin with a casual meet-and-greet, followed by a 30-minute family yoga and meditation session, and then a hands-on Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired art session for kids and adults.

“We’re really excited to give the families a deeper understanding of what Seed Studio programs are like,” Samaltanos said.  

During the event, as the parents are outside experimenting with canvas and acrylics, the kids will be inside Seed’s art room, learning about American modernist O’Keeffe and creating their personal works of art with pastels and watercolors. 

The fundraiser will also allow attendees to acquaint themselves with the nonprofit’s most recent collaborator, The Durango Docents. This group of fellow art enthusiasts will take the studio’s mindful art lessons to various schools in Durango and neighboring counties as part of its latest art outreach program.

“They go to schools that we can’t really reach – for example, those in Ignacio and Montezuma County – and teach them about art history, different artists and also guide them through little art projects,” Samaltanos explained.

This event also marks the first opportunity the studio’s had to connect with the community in a celebratory way since the pandemic. Though the pandemic made the studio’s 10th anniversary impossible, Samaltanos and Craw are excited to bring families together for the studio’s 11th year celebration.

“I feel like we have a lot of new families that have just moved to town, and we want to create community with them as well as connect with our existing families, and really just the whole community at large,” Samaltanos said.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, when it operated out of a small, rented space in the Durango Montessori School, Seed has held steadfast to its vision, which includes introducing collaboration, the importance of breathing deeply and paying attention to the process, all through creativity and art.

Early on, with little ones of their own at home, Samaltanos and Craw recognized a need in the community for a space where children could leave the instant gratification of screens and devices. Seed was conceived as a comforting and inviting space where kids could slow down and follow where their creativity leads. Reminding kids that it’s OK to create something that’s not necessarily going to hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a part of what Samaltanos and Craw strive to teach during their sessions.

“It’s not about looking beautiful,” Craw said. “It’s really about the process of creating and being able to take that process and do it again, whether it’s with the same medium or something else.”

Samaltanos recalled her experience with one young boy in her Creative Kids Club earlier in the day who was lamenting how “bad he was at this.” Samaltanos assured him it was not a problem. “How does anyone get better at anything without practice?” she told him. “So, let’s make some bad art. That’s completely OK, too.”

As the studio and programming continued to take root and grow, it made sense to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into the studio’s offerings as well (in addition to being an artist, Samaltanos is also a yoga instructor.) Today, what began as three weeks of summer programming has now expanded into after-school classes for elementary and middle school kids, a weekly pre-kindergarten program, and classes for older kids and adults.

In addition to the plethora of programs available, Seed Studio also offers “Date Nights,” where parents may drop off their kids for a few hours while they enjoy a night out. “We also do birthday parties, private parties and ‘Girls Night Out’ events,” Craw said. Private, hands-on art lessons are also available.

The fundraiser will also include tapas, wine, non-alcoholic refreshments and a silent auction. Proceeds from the event will go toward expenses associated with the studio’s programming and assist with scholarships. Samaltanos and Craw have made it a part of the Seed Studio policy to open their doors to any child who wants to be there. This year alone, the studio has given out about $6,000 in scholarships, and, as Samaltanos puts it, “we’re just getting started.”

“The scholarships are such a big part of who we are,” Craw added. “We never turn anyone away.”