Carlo Thertus was a starving artist for five years after he opened the Creative Art Space for Kids in September 1996. At the time, he self-funded the children’s art classes by selling his own paintings. Unfortunately, that business model was not sustainable as the operational costs increased.
“I could not find the public support to keep the business going,” Thertus said.
In January 2001, he moved the CASK from Oceanside to its current location, at 48 Atlantic Ave. in Lynbrook, because, he said, he thought Lynbrook would be a better business community. Thertus, 61, also started charging parents of the children $165 per month to help pay for the operational costs. But that did not stop students from coming to learn. In fact, Thertus said, he regularly has eight to 10 students painting, drawing or making ceramics at the studio each night.
Thertus’s classes are not instructional. He will give students guidance, but he encourages them to come up with their own artwork. “The true gift is speaking for yourself,” he said. “At that time, the best work comes out.”
Some of his students have found success in art, and even received scholarships to schools such as The Cooper Union and the Fashion Institute of Technology — both in New York City. Valley Stream resident Nadia Merivil, 12, has been studying at the CASK for the past three years and has had offers of up to $900 for her work.
“People come in, they want to buy her work,” Thertus said.
The work of the CASK students will be on display for the public on Oct. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m., in honor of the non-profit’s delayed 20th anniversary celebration. There will also be an open studio on Nov. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. for children and teenagers to experience the studio free of charge. They will then be able to receive a 15 percent discount for after school and weekend programs, and will be able to sign up for the summer camp for $25. For more information about the CASK or its events, visit www.artclasses4kids.org or call (516) 596-4278.