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June 05, 2015

Five for Friday: Alexis Talia Olsen

The Arts Entrepreneurs
Alexis Olsen Handout Art/for PhillyVoice

Artist and entrepreneur Alexis Olsen.

Fishtown artist Alexis Talia Olsen is opening a small business this fall. No, it's not a bar, music venue, pizzeria or nail salon for cats. Olsen's establishment is geared toward the 13-and-under creative set.

Palmer Pond Art Center is a children's art center offering classes in everything from arts and crafts to painting and dance. The mission is to make art education available to children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. It is a cause Olsen holds close to her heart, as scholarships helped push her own art education forward.

Olsen is almost finished renovating the space at Gaul Street and Montgomery Avenue. She would like to raise an additional $10,000 through her Indiegogo campaign, where she is offering tote bags, monthly passes and even a $2,000 commissioned oil painting.

Learn more about Olsen in the interview below...

What do you love most about working with children? Why is art such a great outlet for children?

I love when I can see their little gears turning and I witness a child have an aha moment or get inspired. Seeing that excitement is what it's all about and reminds me of why art is so important for everyone. The arts facilitate creative connections for children, allowing them to explore and experiment while providing a dynamic foundation for physical, emotional and intellectual development.

When did you discover your passion for the arts?

I started taking ballet classes at the age of 5 and instantly fell in love. Oil painting was my next true passion that I discovered while I was in high school, and from then on they were my two driving forces that I lived for. Having both physical and visual artistic outlets is what kept me balanced.

Eye Candy Alexis Olsen
"Eye Candy" by Alexis Talia Olsen. 

Why does Fishtown need Palmer Pond Art Center?

Fishtown has exploded over the last few years and is now booming with so many great new businesses, but unfortunately not many options for kids. At a time when school districts across the country are cutting art programs, Palmer Pond will be an invaluable resource for children in Philadelphia. I think our community needs to support the arts and foster these creative minds now because they are our future.

Palmer Pond Art Center Rendering
A rendering of the Palmer Pond Art Center. 

What are some of your favorite Fishtown businesses?

Amrita Yoga is my sanctuary and brings me so much joy. The teachers are incredible, and the studio is beautiful. I've always spent a lot of time at Johnny Brenda's for the food and the music, and my new favorites in the neighborhood are Lloyd Whiskey Bar, Fishtown Tavern and Kensington Quarters.

What are you doing this weekend?

This weekend is First Friday so I will definitely check out some local galleries like The Art Dept, Black Vulture Gallery and Arch Enemy Arts. As for the rest of the weekend, it's my birthday, so I think this year I'm not going to worry too much about planning anything and just find some good company, music and dancing, which won't be hard in Philly.

You can donate to Alexis' indiegogo for Palmer Pond here. As of this posting, she has already raised 25% of her $10,000 goal.