Gage Academy of Art


The Academy of Realist Art

Seattle WA



At the time of publsihing this article in 1998, The Academy of Realist Art, based in Seattle, is a private art school unique to the Northwest. Based on the curriculum of the beaux-arts academies of Europe, the Academy provides art training in the traditional techniques of representation.

Working directly from nature and the works of master artists, past and present, Academy instructors communicate the technical know-how and direction for artists to depict their own vision from observation or imagination.

The Academy's art programs reflect the conviction that every person's life can be enriched by learning to perceive more deeply, think more clearly, and to create skillfully with their own hands. For students, the only prerequisite is their desire to learn.

The Academy of Realist Art studios are located in the University Heights Center in the heart of Seattle' s University District. In turn-of-the-century classrooms, instructors run ten-week programs in drawing, painting and sculpture throughout the academic year. Art Weekends, intensive one and two-week workshops and Free Friday evening seminars are also available. Additionally, instructors organize annual workshops, including a women's drawing retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon (in its 5th year) and a San Juan Island Painting Expedition.

The Academy sponsors children and teen art classes through the Young Artists Academy, exhibitions, lectures, art tours and Artist-in-Residence programs. Instructors are professional artists chosen from both the Northwest region and from across the country for their specialized knowledge in fine art training.

Instructor artworks from top to bottom: Domenic Cretara, The Skirmish, 1976,oil on canvas; Sigmund Abales, Summer Melody, pastel, 31 x 41 inches; Mitchell Albala, Orcas Farm, 1994, oil, 18 x 24 inches.



At the Young Artists Academy, instructors offer a creative, drawing-based curriculum for artists aged 4 through 18. The Academy provides clear, directed instruction in the fundamental principles of drawing, sculpture and painting. The Academy offesr art classes for three different age levels in ten-week sessions throughout the academic year.

In 1997 and 1998, the Academy received a Hope for Youth grant from the City of Seattle for low income, at-risk teens taking summer teen art workshops. This past summer, YAA co-sponsored a two-week workshop in 3-D computer animation with Mesmer Animation Labs in Ballard. YAA classes are held at the three locations in Seattle.



The Academy of Realist Art offers exclusive in-depth explorations of the world' s great art capitals. The focus is on art history - art in history and art as history. The approach is fun, savvy and meant to bring greater meaning to one's experience of the masterpieces of art.

Each year the Academy offers one major tour to a different art center. Past tours include Paris, London, Florence and New York City. In 1998 the destination is Venice. Custom-designed for the artist, connoisseur and the intellectually curious, Insider Art Tours focus on pivotal museum collections, important art galleries, and studios of prominent local painters.



The Studio Gallery, located in historic Ballard, features weekend exhibitions of prominent realist artists, many showing in Seattle for the first time. This space is available to Academy students and local instructors to show their work.The Studio Gallery also provides a locus for the Academy's Artist-in-Residence programs, where students work side-by-side with prominent figurative artists developing finished paintings. The Academy's Artistic Director, Gary Faigin, also utilizes the Studio Galley as his private studio.


GARY FAIGIN, Artistic Director and co-Founder of the Academy of Realist Art

Gary Faigin is a classically trained artist with a vision that goes far beyond his own studio. In 1989, Gary with his wife, Pamela Belyea, founded The Academy of Realist Art. Faigin helped to conceive and develop a school with an educational mission.that is unique to the Northwest. The idea was to create a school that endows students with a strong technical foundation, something that most universities have rejected in favor of art theory. Faigin draws on the formal European training he received from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris along with his years teaching at the major art academies in New York.

As the Artistic Director, Faigin holds the unconventional belief that artists are made, not born. His vision and experience help focus and fine tune the Academy's programming. Faigin works to develop programs that appeal to both the artists and neophyte alike. Along with being a full time instructor at the Academy, Faigin also leads a yearly behind-the-scenes exploration of the world' s greatest art capitals.

Instructor artworks from top to bottom:Thomas Loepp, Untitled, 1985, oil on canvas, 35 x 42 inches; Gary Faigin, Straight With a Twist, 1994, oil on canvas, 34 x 47 inches, Presence and Absence, 1996, oil on canvas, 40 x 64 inches.


PAMELA BELYEA, Executive Director and co-Founder of the Academy of Realist Art

Pamela Belyea studied drawing at the Art Students League and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris prior to beginning her studies in architecture at New York's Cooper Union. Upon graduation, she received the New York Society of Architects Award for Excellence in Total Design, the Bruder Prize for Excellence in Structures and the Kazan Prize for Excellence in Urban Design. She was granted her architecture license in 1989.

Since its creation, Pamela's primary role has been planning the evolution of The Academy of Realist Art. Belyea dedicates much of her time to overseeing the development of the big picture, while at the same time managing the day to day running of the school. Belyea's entrepreneurial savvy and passion to design and implement long-term projects give her the tools to run the various arts-based activities of the Academy.

Gary Faigin and Pamela Belyea have been married for 22 years at the time of this writing, October, 1998 They live in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard with their daughter, Sarah, age 7 and their son, Benjamin, age 2.

Instructor artworks from left to right: Margaret Davidson, Corner Chair, oil on panel, 24 x 36 inches; Gloria de Arcangelis, Judith, 1996, oil on wood, 87 x 48 inches; Charles Emerson, Untitled; Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Untitled; Rebecca Allan, Dahlias, 1992, watercolor, 14 x 12 inches;


Instructor artworks from left to right: Michael Friel, Cast Study, 1997, oil on canvas, 41 x 27 inches; Evening Still Life, 1992, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches; Barbara Fugate, Pink Chair Portgrait II, 1997, ink, pastel, charcoal on paper, 36 x 50 inches; Paul Havas, Untitled; Robert Hoggard, Untitled.

Instructor artworks from left to right: Geoffrey Laurence, Untitled; John Nava, Still Life with Five Lemons, 1992, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches; Untitled (Figure Painting); Tony Rider, Untitled (Figure Painting); Michael Stasinos, Untitled, 72 x 96 inches

8/6/03: Editor's note: The above article was published in RLM on 10/14/98. The organization has since advised RLM that the Academy changed its name to The Seattle Academy of Fine Art (SAFA) and has a website at

5/16//15: Editor's note: The organization has changed its name to Gage Academy of Art and has a website at

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1998 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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