Teacher Anthony Stenberg seeks to promote art skills

Published in the September 13 -26, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Anthony Stenberg in the new nonprofit Morgan Hill Art School on East Dunne Avenue.
Photo by Melissa Hartman

On Sept. 5, 1295 E. Dunne Ave. became a more creative place when the nonprofit Morgan Hill Art School opened in Suite 210 for its very first session of classes.

Eighteen classes were offered on the official first day at Morgan Hill Art School, featuring courses like beginning painting and intermediate drawing.

Classes will be held every six weeks to begin with. They will fluctuate based on enrollment and what is popular in the first few sessions. All classes will be taught based on the “Elements and Principles of Design,” common standards that match with what is taught in public school districts.

Founder Anthony Stenberg was an art teacher for 12 years in San Jose public schools, teaching from pre-K all the way through college. His desire to found the art school came from re-establishing his passion for the visual arts, wanting to get away from the formality of meetings and a craving for being able to completely control the curriculum.

He recently took a year off from education and spent his time creating, which really set his interest in art and its background aflame once more.

Stenberg attended San Jose State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts. From there, he attended National University and earned his Masters in Art Education and his Certification in Art Education.

Stenberg and his wife moved to Morgan Hill six years ago from San Jose. Morgan Hill started out as just the area the Stenbergs could afford near their workplaces, but it turned into a place where they found a sense of community.

The artist feels wouldn’t be able to establish the school if he had just a year or two of experience.

“I feel like this is a next progression for me in my career, being able to create art and bring art to the community,” he said. “I feel more connected to this community than I did where I was teaching in East San Jose.”

Alongside Stenberg, longtime resident Patty Curtis will instruct beginners classes at Morgan Hill Art School geared toward both children and adults. Curtis has been the art teacher at P.A. Walsh STEAM Academy for the past three years. Both Stenberg’s and Curtis’ work is featured around the studio so students have an idea of their experience. However, as time goes on, Stenberg wants to fill the walls with the artwork of his students.

Stenberg’s curriculum will involve literacy since art and writing/evaluation often go hand in hand. His students will learn how to break down the art, formulating sentences to correctly talk about the art and will draw conclusions based on what they see in an image. He thinks it will help strengthen the skills of students who have problems with reading comprehension.

Stenberg saw a need for an art school in Morgan Hill after he realized the schools he knows of are run out of people’s homes. He felt that a studio could spark potential for art outreach, his true desire for the community.

Morgan Hill Art School will be working directly with local schools, assisted living centers and rehabilitation centers. From his experience working in assisted living centers, Stenberg has seen the power art can have in creating peace and happiness for seniors. He will also reach out to kids in juvenile detention centers in the hopes that art can act as an outlet to help them move past their mistakes and live a more positive life.

Though the specific groups above will be a large focus for Stenberg and Curtis, they hope to create an environment where anyone of any skill level can come in and learn.

Something the instructors will use to draw people in is special event nights that will be held for each group of the community, such as an art night for educators, for civil service workers, for health care workers, county workers, firefighters and more. On those nights, rates will be reduced and food and beer/wine will be provided as a part of the package.

“Everyone needs relaxation,” Stenberg said. “(These nights will provide) a different way to look at things, to see things, to create things and to have fun.”

Morgan Hill Art School will also offer art camps to students during their winter break in December as well as summer camps in 2018.

The school has 10 scholarships it can give to potential students to cover the fees of classes. The organizers are hoping the donation link on their website, www.morganhillartschool.org/donate, can drive up more funding so any student who might wish to pursue art training but doesn’t have the money for it won’t be discouraged.

“I’ve worked at some places that it’s like if you can pay the price you can come, but if you can’t pay that price, we don’t have anything for you,” Stenberg said. “I’m trying something different because it takes a village to raise a child and it will be successful once we get the community involved.”

For anyone who regularly shops on Amazon and doesn’t have a lot to give to the school, simply changing their browser to amazon.com/smile and choosing Morgan Hill Art School as their charity will bring in revenue to the business based on each purchase.

There are two main goals that Stenberg has for Morgan Hill Art School: that it will help people to be able to slow down and enjoy the little things and that it will encourage other people to put themselves out there and explore a new talent.

“Especially in the Silicon Valley, we tend to go through our days really quickly and get into a routine,” he said. “Hopefully, people break their patterns and try to step outside their comfort zone because that’s what I’m doing.”

Stenberg has anxiety and ADHD, so starting the art school really is putting himself outside his comfort zone. He hopes he can inspire others to do the same.

Stenberg encourages anyone who has an interest in art, even those with no experience, because art takes time. He makes the comparison to him trying to do other people’s jobs just as they would on his first day there.

“You can’t expect to be Picasso the first time you pick up a paintbrush,” he said.

Though classes starteded Sept.5, opening night will not take place until October. Stenberg plans to have an activity at each table, food, music and more. The art activities at the stations will be led by future students, he hopes. He’s going to obtain a beer and wine license so that he can sell spirits that night.

Opening night will help those who are unfamiliar with the school to get a sense of what it is trying to accomplish: “building community through art.”