Category Archives: Avenue Road Arts School

Lessons to master business


Founder LOLA RASMINSKY writes that a pianist’s advice can apply to management practices

While attending a master class in piano performance by well-known Vancouver pianist Robert Silverman recently, I was struck by how transferable his advice was to non-musical settings. Had I not been sitting in the concert hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, I could have well imagined myself taking in a lecture on leadership or strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

I have always been intrigued by how much business executives can learn from artists about how to conduct themselves within a corporate context. In the business world, there is a premium on the ability to” think differently.” Who could teach us better than the people who spend their time creating, namely successful artists of any kind?

Mr. Silverman’s master class could easily have been a lesson in how to make sure your business going forward productively. His first questions were: “Where are you going with this piece? Why are you interpreting the piece in this way?” Many management consultants insist that the first order of business for any organization is to clarify and distill exactly where the company is going. What is the vision? What are the important values driving senior management? What will move people to want to come to work in the morning?

Often, companies get into trouble because they oscillate between competing values. Let’s say, for example, they make a commitment to innovation. Developing new products and new ways of doing things becomes a stated priority. But the moment things stop going exactly as anticipated, senior management pulls the plug on the innovation priority and goes back to focusing on the bottom line. And then the cycle begins all over again, leaving everyone confused about what the company is really all about.

Tempo is another theme that crosses over. “Think about your tempo before you begin the piece,”Mr. Silverman insists. “Look at the most difficult passage in the work and assess how quickly you can manage that tempo.” He’s talking about sustainability. There’s no point bursting out of the starting gate at a breakneck speed if you can’t keep it up. How many businesses get into trouble because they cannot keep up with the pace they ambitiously set at the outset?

In this master class, Mr. Silverman often invoked the “Imagine” priority. “Imagine a dialogue within the piece,” he suggested. “Imagine a different instrument playing the melody and the inner voices.” When our imagination is engaged, the result will have more energy.

Engaging the imagination is probably the most empowering activity any of us can participate in.The imagination is the one place we have unlimited possibilities to choose from. When we brainstorm to come up with new ideas, we use our imagination. When we go out on a limb to consider new ways of doing things, we use our imagination. When a musician plays a pieceof music, it will be much more colourful if the imagination is involved. Many of us want to pursue excellence in business as well as art, but don’t really know how. Mr. Silverman’s piano master class gives us a good start.


Lola Rasminsky is director of the Avenue Road Arts School in Toronto. She is also director of Beyond the Box, a corporate training program that encourages executives to “think differently” by employing strategies used by artists.

In conversation with Martha Johnson

We sat down with instructor Martha Johnson to discuss what she thinks Avenue Road Arts School offers the community, how the arts should be funded, and more!
Watch the whole video on our Vimeo or YouTube:

Martha offers classes in:
Acrylic Painting
Contemporary Acrylic Painting
Drawing for Beginners
Intermediate Acrylic Painting
I Wish I Could Draw
Painting Studio
Painting for Beginners
and more, during our regular term (fall, winter, spring) and summer programs.

Miniature Film Festival

The animated movie BeeBoy by drawing, watercolour, and independent studies instructor Sadko Hadzihasanovic and his daughter Hanna Jovin (a former ARAS student) is in the official program of the Miniature Film Festival in Vancouver, Canada. This is the North American premier of movie and it will be screened on March 28th, 2017.

For more information:


Oh Canada! Summer Arts Camps for Kids, Teens, and Adults

Join Us This Summer for
Fun and Stimulating Programs!

This summer, come join the Avenue Road Arts School and get to know all about Canada from the past to the present!

Campers JK to Grade 4 will see how the arts, history and story come together in this fun, creative and engaging program. Using the rich history, landscapes and stories that make Canada so great, children will draw, paint and sculpt, creating a variety of unique art works. Half- day and full-day options are available. Co-operative games and outdoor play round off the camp day (full-day camps only). Snacks are provided. Full day campers provide their own lunch.  Before camp and after camp care is available.

Children 2 to 5 years will enjoy a week of art, drama, music and fun while exploring the incredible arts, history and landscapes of Canada with a parent or caregiver.

Kids and teens in Grades 3 to 12 can choose from a wide range of engaging classes like Abstract Painting, Acting for Film & TV, Architecture & Design, Comic Book Studies, Creating A Graphic Novel, Drawing & Painting, and more!

Adults and teens 15+ will enjoy participating in stimulating and challenging programs like Classical Drawing, Painting for Beginners, Drawing for Beginners, Digital Photography for Beginners, Perspective Drawing, Painting Water, and other options in drawing, painting, and illustration.

Spaces will go fast, so register today!

Oh, Yuck!

Acting and Musical Theatre teacher Allison Beula will appear in Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty.  “Oh Yuck!” and is based on a popular kids book of the same name, which is an encyclopaedia of “gross things” – the science of all things “yucky”. It is an Australian/Canadian co-production and involves live actors, puppets, and animation. Allison plays a young robot who wants to be human.

The show is set to air in Australia next year and North American release dates are to be announced in the coming months. Stay tuned!


Evans Contemporary is pleased to present Fluorescence, a multi-channel video-installation by the Toronto based collaborative Soft Turns, which includes ARAS instructor Sarah Jane Gorlitz.

Inspired by the way microscopes appear to intermingle touch and sight, Fluorescence is a multi-channel video-installation that explores an expanded conception of surface. Here, microscopic images of plant cells from biology textbooks become iridescent under a moving light source (a laptop). The startling but natural effect of offset printing and the dynamics of reflected light, make the images appear suddenly tangible, ready to pop off the page.

The video channels in Fluorescence present many versions of the same image, as it has appeared across eight editions of Biology of Plants (1970-). Each image in the installation is slightly different, and for many, the change is so slight, that it is noticeable only in the way creases catch reflected light. What is left for the viewer’s scrutiny are aspects usually perceivable by a more sensitive apparatus than the eye.

This installation draws attention to subtlety, and the barely visible – like the amount of light emitted from a monitor’s screen (coincidentally, enough for photosynthesis to occur). The natural world, along with all the complicated systems that humans design to help them understand it, is a focus of Soft Turns’ practice. Their work often appears complex, but emerges from approaches similar to those of a naturalist – the slow attentive study of easily observable yet often overlooked phenomena.

Soft Turns is the collaborative effort of Wojciech Olejnik and Sarah Jane Gorlitz. They consider the encounter with something ‘other’, as an ever-changing space between the accessible and inaccessible; interaction with these spaces – these brief moments that weave the background of everyday existence – drives their practice. They employ found objects, common materials, D.I.Y. methods, and experimentation to create videos, stop-motions and mixed media installations. Featured in the Fall 2011 issue of Canadian Art, and in Syphon 3.1 (2015), they have received support from the Swedish Edstrand Foundation, the Toronto, Ontario, and Canada Arts Councils; the latter awarding them the 2008 Joseph Stauffer Prize for Emerging Artists and a 2013 Paris Residency. Recent exhibitions include: Southern Exposure (San Francisco), Foundation 3.14 (Bergen), Greusslich Contemporary (Berlin), 18th Videobrasil (São Paulo), Skånes konstförening (Malmö), Oakville Galleries (Oakville), Trinity Square Video (Toronto) and Modern Fuel (Kingston). They are the 2016-18 artists in residence at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Canada.

Soft Turns would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, and the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph.

A Whimsical Woodland Integrated Arts Camp: March Break 2017!


This March Break, you will embark on a creative discovery and learn all about the critters, creatures, flora and magical mysteries of our forests and woodlands. Join the Avenue Road Arts School and explore through a fun, unique and whimsical approach. Children will drawpaint and sculpt, using a number of techniques and materials, including natural and recycled objects, all while creating a variety of inspirational art works that represent the camper’s very own style. To explore the theme further, drama and music activities will be utilized and campers will be encouraged to participate in interpreting their art through different forms and media.

Register today!

Hunter Games and Other Stories

ARAS instructor Sadko Hadzihasanovic presents a solo show, Hunter Games and Other Stories, at the Ulrich Museum of Art (Whichita , Kansas) January 14 – February 26, 2017:

Sadko Hadzihasanovic’s multimedia employs humor and irony to probe notions of history, ideology and consumption. His works in painting, drawing, photography, and printmaking explore the construction of identity and its cultural and social implications. His largely portraiture-based work makes an array of references to popular culture, his upbringing in Bosnia, and the dichotomous nature of Cuba’s national identity, and various elements of Canadian culture. The paintings from Hadzihasanovic’s recent body of work are drawn from sketches of hunters that he made while on vacation in Serbia in 2015. Titled Hunter Games, the large-scale works feature renderings of figures in classical Greek contrapposto poses and touch on the links between visual culture and violence, gun control, and consumerism.

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ARAS artist about to jump from canvas to fashion runway

Works by ARAS Student Niam Jain, 13, have been featured on CBC.


He only picked up a paintbrush one year ago as part of his therapy for autism, but a Toronto teenager has now sold dozens of paintings worldwide and will soon have his work featured by a Canadian fashion designer.

Niam Jain, 13, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder — a social communication disorder — at the age of two, and still has minimal speech and comprehension skills. But give him a brush and some paint, and he communicates expressively.

Read more below:

And check out our previous blog post about Niam!