View Full Version : All NYC Inside Avenues, the Exclusive Chelsea Private School With the World's Most Extravagant Art Curriculum

06-21-2012, 08:54 AM
From Artinfo (http://artinfo.com/news/story/807865/inside-avenues-the-exclusive-chelsea-private-school-with-the-worlds-most-lavish-art-curriculum) by Julia Halperin:

If you were to take a walk on the High Line in Chelsea today, you might spot an imposing, tan building rising high above the elevated park on 26th Street, newly free of its scaffolding. On its roof, there is American flag flapping in the wind. This slightly abstracted version of the stars and stripes, however, is not your standard-issue flag, but rather an artwork by Frank Benson. This fall, the building will open, and those inside will have access to one of Chelsea's most exclusive private collections. The halls are lined with work by recognizable figures — a bright, cartoonish flower painting by Takashi Murakami, a text painting by Glenn Ligon, a dollar bill print by Tom Friedman. On the eighth floor, three large flatscreen monitors show rotating displays of cutting-edge digital artwork.

But this isn’t your typical private museum. Opposite the flatscreens is a hallway lined with lockers.

Welcome to Avenues: The World School, a new for-profit educational institution opening in Chelsea this fall. The $75 million school is building one of the world’s most expansive — and extravagant — visual arts curricula outside a university.


At the many information sessions held at swanky venues around the city, Avenues marketed itself as a “school for the 21st century.” In contrast to the stuck-in-its-ways elite of the private school old guard, the founders have said, Avenues isn’t afraid to break down the walls between disciplines. “We want students to be project-based problem solvers,” explained Misenheimer. That means upper-level students will be able to take a course in video game design, a field that, Misenheimer notes, combines art, math, and science.

Imagine entering your first-grade art class and learning to identify primary colors in Mandarin. At Avenues, students will take art class in either Mandarin or Spanish through fourth grade in accordance with the school’s half-day language immersion program. “I hired two art teachers at the lower level, and one had to be fluent in Mandarin, the other in Spanish, and be able to teach elementary art in a number of mediums,” Misenheimer said. (Most members of the art faculty are working artists, as is Misenheimer herself.) “Art is a really third language, a visual language, and I want that to sync with the Chinese and Spanish.”

Of course, Avenues will offer an abundance of traditional technical courses as well. Students will be required to take lessons in painting, printmaking, photography, digital art, sculpture, and film. Later on, middle and high school students will also be able to take electives such as fashion design. “I’d love to have students put on a fashion show on the High Line,” Misenheimer mused. Many art classes will also have a service component; students will create prints about pressing social issues, for example, and then auction them off for charity.

It’s clear that Avenues takes itself, and its ability to mold future art worlders, quite seriously. “I would hope that a student, when they enter a classroom, is considered an artist,” Misenheimer said in an introductory video posted to Avenues’s Web site. “They would be considered an artist arriving at a studio.”

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