A Lakeside Legacy: Inside The Jean Henry School of Art

Galleries, art showings and art institutes are bountiful in San Francisco, but not everyone feels like art is approachable in the City.

Lakeside staple The Jean Henry School of Art, now boasting 54 years in business, aims to be an inclusive space for those seeking to discover their inner artist, or project their existing one in a more prolific way.

“We take people as they are and develop them depending on what their needs and interest are,” said Director Mike Ritch.

Jean Henry School of Art Director, Mike Ritch.

Ritch took over the art school, located at 2640 Ocean Ave., when Jean Henry retired in 2007. Since her exit, about a dozen of her original students have remained, but the school is often taking new enrollees. The school serves about 60 to 70 students per year, according to Ritch. Also in that transition from Henry to Ritch, the artistic approach of lessons shifted from Henry’s California Impressionist style to a more contemporary one, introducing several new styles.

The school now offers courses that include a core oil painting class taught by Ritch, as well as seasonal courses in abstract painting, color theory, and acrylic painting and drawing, which are taught by Danielle Lawrence and Scotty Hewicker. The instructors that cycle through the school tend to be instructors at local universities and art institutes as well.

Artists of all skill levels are welcome. “[The classes are] approachable, yet still satisfying for more advanced artists,” said Ritch. 

Along with building an artistic community, self-discovery is also promoted at the art school. “I try to help people find what inspires them and work them individually, depending on what sort of styles they’re interested in,” said Ritch with a smile.

“One of the parts that I really, really enjoy is seeing when it clicks for someone; when they get that they can do it themselves, and it’s not just for people who want to be professional artists.”

Classes vary in price, but the core curriculum, which includes one three-hour class per week, costs $170 per month. There is a $75 enrollment fee for first-time students, and artists can expect to pay an average of $50 in materials, which are not included in the course cost.

Supplies can be purchased in the micro art store.

Classes are offered Mondays 1pm-4pm and 7pm-10pm, Tuesdays 9:30am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:30pm, and Saturdays 10:30am-1:30pm.

Jean Henry School of Art also offers a monthly $15 figure drawing event every third Thursday, which is open to its students as well as the general public.

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A lakeside legacy inside jean henrys school of art