When Stony Brook University alum James Anzalone opened the doors to The Art Academy of Long Island in Merrick on Sept. 3, his goal for the academy was to provide the community with a place to learn the skills of a true artist.
“I want it to be a place that opens the door to the world of art for people who previously felt it was a door they couldn’t open,” he said.
The school will give the opportunity for people of all ages to learn various methods of art, including drawing and oil painting. Anzalone teaches the youth classes, in which he gives lessons on the fundamentals of art. Charcoal drawing classes are offered to children ages 7-12, which prepares them to work with paint in the future. More advanced drawing and oil painting classes are offered to teenagers and adults.
“All of my students begin by working in charcoal and eventually move into oil paints,” Anzalone said. “The program is broken down in a way that is simple to understand, even for beginners.”
Anzalone came to Stony Brook with a major in biology on the pre-med track, and a minor in art. His love for art grew as he went through school and by the time he started senior year, he knew he wanted a career in this field.
For his senior year, Anzalone added more art classes to his schedule, including oil painting, pottery and new media. This newfound interest derailed his pre-med plans.
After graduating with a double major in studio art and biology, he continued to pursue his passion for art.
“I spent several years working in graphic design and a few more in hospitality before I opened this school,” he said.
Anzalone’s motivation and inspiration to found the Art Academy of Long Island came from studying for two years with Kevin Murphy, an award-winning illustrator and portrait painter. Murphy founded his own art academy in 2009 called the Art Academy that has two locations in New Jersey, one in Hillsborough and another in Lebanon.
“He sparked the fire and guided me down his path,” Anzalone said.
Anzalone made the academy a family business. His father, Gary Anzalone, will be his teaching assistant throughout his classes, according to LIHerald.com. His father has had many years of professional art experience. According to the academy’s website, he graduated with a technical drafting degree from New York University, ran his own architectural sign firm and was a high school drafting teacher.
For those who wish to improve their artistic abilities, classes at the art academy are being held on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and can be scheduled on its website, artacademyli.com. A free trial lesson is also available.