VIRGINIA CITY - Once just a haven for professional artists, St. Mary's Art Center will now be a lot more accessible to those who don't know the difference between linseed oil and paint thinner.
The center will host its first "Girls' Day Out" artistic retreat Friday and Saturday. The retreat is the first effort to attract a wide range of talents to the former Catholic hospital overlooking Flowery Ridge. The retreats will give 20 participants time to journal, socialize, and create works of art in tile and watercolor.
The women will have the run of the center's large, sunlit studio.
"It's our first week, and the 20 spots are already filled," said Linda Nazemian, an art center board member who is also teaching the retreat watercolor class. "And we'll have another retreat in October. We already have people on that waiting list."
St. Mary's Art Center is going into the business of custom retreats, and it's profitable. The Girls' Day Out package, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday or Saturday, costs about $55 per person. The day package includes creative activities, refreshments and a light lunch. The overnight package, which includes dinner and breakfast Saturday, is $95. The two-day package is $125. All proceeds go to operate the art center, Nazemian said.
The center plans on conducting customized bridal showers, work retreats and other gatherings, which will generally stick to the base price, she said.
"So many people who have had very little art in their lives want a chance to be more creative," Nazemian said.
The art center will soon offer basic art classes in addition to professional classes. She said about 300 professional artists a year study at St. Mary's.
"We've also just started renovating the attic for artist studios," Nazemian said. One of those rooms will rent for about $400 a month.
The center recently received about $300,000 to install a third bathroom, accessible for those with disabilities and to renovate space in the basement for more classrooms. This gives the center more room for basic art classes, which is something they haven't attempted in the past.
"We want to attract more people into the arts," she said. "We want this center to be used."
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
St. Mary's Art Center
A nonprofit arts organization
55 N. R St. Virginia City
• For information on retreats, call Mimi Patrick at 847-7466