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A Local Gem for Art Lovers: The Art School at Old Church

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

"The process of making is a celebration of life." -Mikhail Zakin, Co-Founder

The Art School at Old Church started as many great ideas do, as a passing thought on a drive. Co-founder Mikhail Zakin, a renowned pottery artist and teacher, was passing through Demarest and saw the abandoned Carpenters Gothic Church that had been boarded up for over 15 years. This sparked the idea for an artist community in her home of Bergen County that could have classes and exhibits, bringing people together.

Through their hard work and dedication, Mikhail and her group of artist friends transformed the old church into a center for artistic learning and enrichment. Today, the Art School continues to offer educational and cultural experiences that enrich the quality of life in the local and regional community.

The Art School at Old Church is a vibrant community of artists and art enthusiasts who support and encourage each other in their creative endeavors. There are many ways to participate at the school: join them for a class, a workshop, or attend one of their gallery exhibitions, or volunteer!

Gallery Exhibitions

Looking to enrich your day with beautiful art from emerging and local artists? You can do that easily by visiting The Mikhail Zakin Gallery and The Café Gallery at The Art School at Old Church. Both exhibition spaces house rotating curations of art and fine crafts to the public and members of The Art School community. The Mikhail Zakin Gallery offers exhibition space for professional regional and international artists in shows curated by their Gallery Committee. The Café Gallery spotlights student work with group or two-person exhibits. Exhibitions in The Mikhail Zakin Gallery and The Café Gallery are FREE and open to the public! Gallery visitation currently requires appointments that are available Monday through Friday and can be made by phone. (201) 767-7160. Limited capacity, social distancing, and masks are required for COVID-19 safety. Both galleries are wheelchair accessible. Want to display your artwork? Proposals for exhibitions in The Mikhail Zakin Gallery can be emailed to

Current Exhibition: Classes During Covid

The current exhibition on display in both The Mikhail Zakin Gallery and The Café Gallery, "Classes During Covid," is made up of artwork produced by The Art School students during the Covid-19 lockdown. It represents work created from April 1, 2020, through February 1, 2021. Work was created from both their online and in-studio classes. There are 95 pieces of art exhibited ranging from paintings, drawings, collages, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and jewelry. This special exhibition displays new and interesting artwork made during a very unsettling time. It also serves as a preview for the type of art that any student can learn to make by taking classes with The Art School at Old Church.

Annual Pottery Show and Sale

The School closed out 2020 with a bang, hosting its 46th Annual, first-ever virtual Old Church Pottery Show and Sale this past December. The Old Church Pottery Show is renowned in the potter community and a model for other shows of its kind. In 2020, the six-day virtual experience included artist talks, workshops, and the online display and sale of more than 500 one-of-a-kind pieces by invited artists — everything from functional mugs, dishware, servers, and casseroles to sculptural works — as well as online artist talks and instructional workshops. For more information on this annual event, visit

Pictured: Work by Peter Pincus, one of the Potters featured in the 46th Annual Pottery Show & Sale

Art Classes and Workshops

The Art School at Old Church has announced its Spring session of classes, which begins March 29th. Registration for the classes has started and you can now register online, over the phone (201-767-7160), or by mail (561 Piermont Road, Demarest, NJ 07627).

A full catalog of offerings is available through The Art School’s Virtual Classroom where students can receive quality art instruction from the comfort of home. In-studio classes are also available and follow state and CDC guidelines, including mask requirements and limited capacity to facilitate social distancing.

Courses include drawing, jewelry making, painting, photography, photoshop, pottery, printmaking, sculpture, glass blowing, basketry, and more for adults, teens, families, and children.

Our Top Picks:

Eat Drink and Be Merry

In the “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” course, students will learn how to make luscious pots designed to hold, serve, and prepare food. Students can create drinking vessels, pitchers, teapots, serving bowls, platters, baking casseroles, and more. If you have a strong appetite for making beautiful pots, this class is perfect for you. The goal of the class will be a potluck feast at the end of the semester to try out the new pieces!

Getting Muddy

In Getting Muddy students will wheel, pinch, coil, and slab! Students in this class will be introduced to wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques and will be taught to utilize them to explore the creation of various vessel forms. This course encourages creativity and is a great stress reliever. Geared towards beginners or those who need a refresher, this course is an awesome way to dip your toe into the world of ceramics and well… to get muddy!

Glowing Glass: Flameworked Beads

In this course, you will learn all about the transformative power of glasswork by going through the journey from taking a rod of cold glass, turning it in the flame of a torch, and learning to manipulate it into extraordinarily beautiful Flameworked beads! This art form is both decorative and practical, perfect for those who love to create with purpose. Glass beads have incredible depth and can be embedded with flowers and patterns or worked into intricate floral shapes and sculptures. Both beginners and the experienced will have fun learning the latest techniques in this course. If you are new to this art form, can be quite addictive!

A Beginner’s Guide to Abstraction (Online)

This course will explore the use of form, color, line, and gesture in the illusion that is pictorial space and consider different ways that each can be used to build a structure and convey feelings. Exercises will be provided to illustrate this as we learn to make art that does not imitate life, but strives for something more expressively powerful!

Sugar Flowers

Sugar Flowers teaches students how to make stunning and realistic flowers from sugar and other edible food-grade materials. This art form is creative, delicious and allows you to create beautiful edible decorations for any occasion, from birthdays to weddings. Students will learn basic techniques to form petals and create textures for a variety of flowers. Let the creativity blossom!

The Spring semester also includes one-day workshops, where participants can hone a skill and create something new to take home in a short amount of time. Custom-made classes are available for those who would like to create privately with a group of friends or loved ones. With this “Create a Class” option, The Art School can arrange for an experienced instructor to conduct safe and socially distanced art classes at your home or online.

Phone: (201) 767-7160

Hours: Open Monday through Friday by appointment

The Art School at Old Church started as a passing thought of a talented Bergen County artist and has blossomed into a powerful and fun community art space, dedicated to sharing art with the people of Bergen County. In the thirty-five years since its establishment, the Art School at Old Church has enriched the lives of at least three generations through fine art and craft classes for adults, teens, children, and families, as well as through workshops and art exhibits. Channel your inner artist and take advantage of this local gem, whether it’s through online classes or a visit to see the stunning free exhibits!


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