Small Business Feature: Lamy Avery Art Gallery International

The Lamy Avery Art Gallery International is an oasis of elegant creativity. Sculptures; pottery; oil, watercolor, and acrylic paintings; pastel pictures; and portraits line its sun-lit walls as soft classical music plays. Tucked away in a building of offices behind Trader Joe’s, the gem of a gallery is Claremont’s best kept secret and Zsuzsa Lamy Avery is its heart and soul.

Lamy started the studio by herself fifteen years ago and continues to run it single-handedly, providing one-on-one lessons to art enthusiasts of all ages and proficiencies. Any student of Lamy’s can see that her love and respect for all forms of art runs deep. She treats art like a way of life: an appreciation of the world and its wonders, an expression of self, a practice in imagination, a language that all should learn. This view is the product of personal experience: Lamy was an artist long before she became a teacher. Born in Budapest, Hungary, she was taught art in school at an early age. Even then, Lamy knew that she loved art and that to do art was her dream. At eighteen, her first job was at an animation studio, where she learned the (then) new art of animation through practice under many great and renowned international artists. She stayed in the industry for over 40 years — long enough to watch it transform from within as animation technologies developed. From illustrating movies by hand in Hungary to moving across the world and learning to digitally draw cartoons like the Simpsons and Rugrats on the fly, Lamy lived and developed her art. Her teaching approach reflects that passion — especially when it comes to younger students.

“Imagination is the wonderful treasure that children have,” Lamy said. ”That’s why kids need to do art: to get to know themselves through their imaginations and to have a richer inner experience that no one can take away. As you grow up, you begin to lose your imagination… If you get used to being creative, then you can keep it. It takes practice.“

Lamy teaches children, adults, and anyone in between. For her students aged nine and older, her strategy is to teach technical art skills first, so that their basic artistic education can support them in the exploration of any art form or media.

“First, you learn the rules in order to learn how to not follow the rules, to do your own thing…we learn the basics but don’t forget how much personal freedom we have in art,” Lamy said.

This teaching approach is made possible by Lamy’s intimate knowledge of all kinds of art, which is the result of her flexible and hands-on education. Her wisdom and experience makes her a teacher of exceptionally rare fluency. Her warm and welcoming demeanor makes her a person that you can’t help but trust to teach you well.

“The world is a piece of art,” Lamy said. “Anywhere and everywhere is art, and art can be different….You express your creativity through art. And creativity is what makes it worth it to live.”