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Longtime schoolteacher opens art studio in Bayport

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Krissi McVicker was in college when she got the same advice given to so many would-be art teachers.

That is: Don’t do it.

“I was steered the other way,” she said. “People were telling me it’s the hardest job to get on Long Island. And also the first jobs to go from schools with budget cuts.”

So she pursued elementary education instead, and for 15 years has taught young children a range of other subjects.

“I kind of gave up on my dream,” she said.

She’s since figured out that she can pursue that dream outside of a public school setting.

After teaching some adult classes professionally, McVicker opened The Phoenix Art Studio & Gallery on Middle Road in Bayport earlier this month. There she’s hosting paint-and-sip nights and running summer camps for kids.

(Her Petite Picasso Summer Camp actually starts today, July 28.)

She’s considering an after-school program for the fall. Already a certified teacher, McVicker envisions that program running from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the week. She would offer arts classes, a snack and help with homework.

She’ll also be running “Paint it Forward” fundraisers, through which works of art can be donated to charity, and hosting gallery shows for local artists.

As for the story behind the studio, the mother-of-three from Babylon said that while dealing with some personal issues, she returned to her passion for painting. Then, she started playing the guitar.

She found joy in connecting to something that didn’t involve a glowing screen.

“I really felt reborn,” McVicker said. “I got a lot of therapy through art and music. So much so that I felt like I wanted to do that for other people too. The story behind the name phoenix comes from me sort of spreading my wings and being reborn.”

Inside her breezy, sun-spashed studio, she hopes people can have similar experiences while having fun and unwinding.

She emphasizes that the studio will be all about “connecting.”

“I just feel like people need to step back,” she said. “Step away from their phones and connect to the world, connect to art, connect to what’s happening in the community.

“Connect to all that.”

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

In-story photo: Krissi McVicker stands at one of her art tables, all of which she created using discarded doors that date to the 19th century, in her art studio in Bayport Monday. (Credit: Michael White)

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com