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Beréskin Art Gallery & Art Academy transitions classes to Figge Art Museum, Family Museum

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After 30 years in the Quad-Cities art community, Pat Beréskin has begun to contemplate her legacy. She runs an art gallery, creates her own works and helps cultivate young artists' talents through her art academy — when looking at the future, she wanted to figure out what she could step back from, and what she wanted to hold onto.

What Beréskin learned led to her collaborating with the Figge Art Museum in Davenport and Family Museum in Bettendorf to create new art programs in each organization, presenting new opportunities for the youth of the Quad-Cities to discover and hone their skills as artists. 

"I thought, well, if anything the last two-plus years have taught us, it's seize the moment," Beréskin said. "So that's what I did." 

The Beréskin Art Academy is transitioning its classes to the two musuems, where students of different ages and skill levels will learn about art in all kinds of mediums and styles. The Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy building will close Aug. 1, with the gallery transitioning to online-only viewing, and classes at the Figge and Family Museum will begin later in the month. 

The Family Museum, 2900 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf, will house the Beginner Art Academy, for students in early elementary grades. Family Museum Director of Culture & Recreation Kim Kidwell said most classes will go through the school year, though they are working on eight-week courses as well. 

"Whenever we get to collaborate with other cultural institutions and other museums, it's really just a win for the community," Kidwell said. "So we're just really happy to be part of it." 

The Family Museum's art programming currently includes periodic art courses lasting between four and six weeks and summer camps. Kidwell said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the museum being understaffed, causing employees to have to stretch themselves across multiple departments.

With Beréskin and her staff of instructors handling the classes they're bringing to the Figge and Family Museum, Kidwell said museum staff will be able to dedicate themselves more fully to other programs. 

"It's just awesome because we'll be able to provide even more than we had beforehand with her instructors in our space," Kidwell said. 

The Figge Art Museum will use its studio spaces to host the new Art Academy at the Figge, offering classes for intermediate and advanced art students in late elementary through high school.

Figge CEO and Executive Director Michelle Hargrave said the art museum's education department is the largest area of the museum, and education is one of its four main pillars in its mission to connect people and art. The Figge offers classes throughout the year for all ages and skill levels, from one-day workshops to courses that dive deep into works.

The Beréskin classes will create a new facet to the program, including a new clay lab, and allow the museum to fulfill its commitment to expanding studio classes. 

Hargrave said Beréskin has had a significant impact on the local arts community over the years, and she is excited to facilitate the artist's work with budding artists. 

"To have someone like that at the Figge teaching students, she will certainly be a force to be reckoned with," Hargrave said. 

Running the Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy had Beréskin on the clock seven days a week, she said, leaving no time for other pursuits. Transitioning the gallery to a fully online format and collaborating with the Figge and Family Museum will free up a few days for Beréskin to spend with her family and friends, travel and focus on her own art.  

Students who wish to join a class will meet with Beréskin to show their recent work and discuss what types of art they're interested in, so she can find out where they would best fit. More information on how to join either art program will be available online at the Figge and Family Museum websites. 

"I'm so looking forward to this, and I'm looking forward to what it means to the Quad-Cities to have all of these art classes and programs available," Beréskin said. 


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