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About One River School

Founded by Matt Ross in September of 2012 “one river” west of New York City, One River School of Art + Design has embarked on a mission to transform art education in America. Today, our innovative program teaches thousands of students in ten schools across six states with many more openings on the horizon.

One River School has developed a proprietary method for teaching art and digital design programs to students of all ages in a state of the art facility. Our process allows students to have more fun, make inspiring artwork, develop new friendships and grow their art making skills along the way.

Our exhibition program has become a national taste-maker for emerging artists across the country. We present the most current, and compelling artworks in our school galleries. Inevitably, our exhibition series supports working artists and our mission to create more awareness for contemporary art.

Our expansion creates numerous opportunities for communities across America through our unique franchise program, and the compelling career opportunities we are creating in the arts.


In 2011 Founder Matt Ross began research into art programs across the United States and a pattern emerged. In most metropolitan areas, there was an abundance of art schools in the city centers but virtually none in the nearby suburbs.

When Ross chose Englewood, NJ to open One River School, he felt convinced that the location would be the perfect one for a pilot school that would test the notion that cool art schools could thrive outside the city center.  Matt says: “we believe that people in suburbs across America want access to the same amazing creative experiences that exist in our cities”.

To fulfill this mission, Matt developed a new method for teaching art that created the most compelling and fun recreational / art education experiences. Ross continues, “We created a cool, interactive experience that is focused on current concepts.   It celebrates the most important artists and themes of the last 50 years and we purpose-built a proprietary curriculum that has enabled us to deliver an experience that is changing people’s lives.”

“One River” is not only the name of our school but a metaphor for the cultural gap that exists in suburbs across America and it is Matt’s ambition to address the challenge by growing One River into a national network of schools.


Transform Art Education in America


Offer The Most Fun and Current Art Education Experience

Create Compelling Career Opportunities and Become the "Best Place to Work in the Arts"


Promote Business Ownership Within the Visual Arts

Become the Voice of Contemporary Art in Our Communities


Matt Ross, Founder & CEO

Music and art seem to run together for a lot of people, and this is clearly the case for One River School of Art + Design founder and CEO Matt Ross. After 20 years as an executive in the radio industry, Matt became an investor and the founding CEO for the School of Rock. At that time, in 2005, School of Rock was a fledgling startup with a handful of schools. Five years later, when Ross left, School of Rock was the largest network of music schools in the world.

At that point, Ross compared the state of art education to the state of music education prior to the expansion of School of Rock. It appeared that the two were virtually the same: there were very few innovative art schools near his home in New Jersey and in suburbs across America. Thus began the start of a personal mission that has occupied Matt since the fall of 2011: “It seems to me that the most relevant and important thing I can do is to help people grow creatively. I love the challenge of inspiring people through compelling art education while making it fun at the same time. This is my calling; it is my mission and it is the purpose of One River School.”

In addition, Matt has embarked on a personal creative project: developing an important collection of contemporary art that currently features over 200 pieces. “When I was getting started with One River, it dawned on me that if I was going to teach people contemporary art I needed to jump in and self-educate beyond the classroom. Committing to building an art collection turned out to be the best way for me to develop a personal point of view around what art I thought was well done and potentially important. Almost all of the art that I own is from young artists; most often I support them during their first or second solo exhibitions. This project has required me to obsessively visit studios, galleries, museums and art fairs around the world in search of art that challenges my senses. Along the way, I have been blessed to help change some artist’s lives by providing measurable support, and I consider this to be one of the most important things I have done in my life.”

When it comes to enjoying art, Ross has a unique perspective. “I believe that we see art through our eyes but we feel it physically in a different way. It is hard to describe, but when I am engaged with something that moves me, it creates a physical response that is much more than purely visual. It’s like the feeling in your heart from a solid drum beat or guitar…those enter through your ears but the feeling you get is much deeper and more complex.”

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