Railyard Arts Studio in Croton Falls to resume in-person classes in May

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Railyard Arts Studio will resume in-person classes beginning in May, over a year after having to cancel them due to COVID. Railyard’s return comes on the heels of a disruptive year in which Jill Leary, founder and owner of Railyard Arts, had to get creative to keep her business afloat.

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

“During COVID, for me not to go under, I had to switch the way the studio worked,” Leary said. She pivoted to a membership model in which artists could rent studio space for a monthly fee. She built rolling walls in Railyard’s art room to divide the room into six semi-private spaces. Several potters signed up for monthly access to studio space in the adjacent pottery room. The cumulative rental fees added up to enough to cover the monthly rent on the building.

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Leary’s temporary pivot kept the lights on at Railyard, but it was also a significant departure from her original vision for the studio. The former elementary school art teacher had initially conceived of Railyard as an art community in an upscale, inviting environment. “A place for artists to relax, talk, share ideas and inspire each other in a casual lounge space designed to create collaboration,” according to Railyard’s website. From the start, Leary's vision resonated.

“Our first year in business, we just took off,” Leary said. “People would come, take a class, have lunch, then take another class.” Railyard's interior is very much designed with comfort and serenity in mind. The space is light and airy, with warm wood floors and high-end decorative touches that make any visitor want to linger.

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

Now, nearly 14 months after COVID disrupted Railyard’s early momentum, Leary's original vision is slowly coming back into focus. The studio will offer a full schedule of summer classes for both adults and children. By fall, the space will once again hum with the buzz of artists and educators engaging with one another in classes inside the studio.

Summer classes will primarily be held outdoors, with the exception of clay classes. For pottery and clay, adults can choose from beginner or intermediate wheel throwing, hand building with clay or advanced pottery. Outdoor adult classes include painting and drawing. Outdoor kids’ art in the “yard” classes will explore diverse artists and mediums, and an outdoor knit circle for kids age 9-13 will teach beginner knitting techniques.

Leary says she’s thrilled to finally be able to offer in-person instruction again.

Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

“I’ve been getting emails from people who are excited to come back,” Leary said. “I always say I’m lucky to have settled in this area. The local artist community is amazing.”

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