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home : features : arts & entertainment May 22, 2015

3/29/2010 9:13:00 AM
Students use their art to help their art
Price Burns, 9, plays on a large xylophone Saturday afternoon at the Family Arts Festival in Prescott Valley.
Photo courtesy of Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Price Burns, 9, plays on a large xylophone Saturday afternoon at the Family Arts Festival in Prescott Valley.
Photo courtesy of Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Jose Rodriguez, 17, a student at Bradshaw Mountain High School stands next to his
Jose Rodriguez, 17, a student at Bradshaw Mountain High School stands next to his "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired chair Saturday afternoon at the Family Arts Festival in Prescott Valley.
Photo courtesy of Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Doug Cook
Special to the Tribune

In the past, high school students involved in the Family Arts Festival's chair auction copied works by master artists on their plain wooden chair frames.

But this year, organizers tweaked the theme a bit, deciding instead to have pupils paint 20 small rocking chairs with themes from 19 famous children's book illustrators, such as Dr. Seuss, Bill Watterson ("Calvin and Hobbes") and Eric Carle ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar").

At the Prescott Valley Civic Center's former town council chambers Saturday afternoon, some 30 chairs were auctioned off, the money benefiting Bradshaw Mountain High School's Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship Fund. All money that's generated goes to senior art students who plan to further pursue their craft after graduation.

In 2009, BMHS awarded a $1,500 scholarship and a $500 scholarship to two high school seniors. Former BMHS art teacher Christine Scott began the program several years ago.

"In years past we were doing artists such as Monet and Van Gogh, and I just got tired of it," said Emily Gabaldon, a ninth-year art teacher at BMHS who has assisted with the chair project for the past seven years. "We were doing the same chairs over and over. What we're doing now seems to be a hit so far. It's a little more fun."

BMHS art students from Gabaldon's Drawing and Painting II class and Lake Valley Elementary kindergartners collaborated to paint this year's chairs. Gabaldon said the project started off several years ago with a grant program to bolster children's interest in art.

"We worked with our kindergarten classes and brought them over with our high schools as kind of a collaborative project," Gabaldon said.

However, kindergartners did not help with a few of the 2010 chairs - including the "Oh, the Places You Will Go" chair, which two former BHMS art teachers donated, and a "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip chair, painted and donated by Gabaldon's student-teacher.

José Rodriguez, a 17-year-old BMHS junior art student, spent two weeks painting an "Alice In Wonderland"-themed chair by himself. An advanced-placement artist, he is putting it in his portfolio.

The chair incorporates a vibrant pastel color scheme with the "Alice" book's main characters depicted on the chair's back and seat.

"Most of what I painted was from my head (as well as) drawing inspiration from the book and the movie that just came out from (director) Tim Burton," said Rodriguez, who plans to attend an art school after graduation. "As a little kid, the Disney cartoon version of the book was the first movie I watched and really liked."

Kelly Kain, another BMHS junior, took a chair home to paint a Dr. Seuss-related theme from "The Cat in the Hat" on it. The chair has bright, intense colors, including an enchanting dark blue.

"His signature is the red-and-white hat, so I put that on the front of the chair's back," said Kain. "It's on every Seuss book."


Across the room from where Gabaldon was stationed, Nea Hollis, a reading specialist at Granville Elementary, was making four chairs and five benches available for the auction.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from Hollis' after-school arts program painted those chairs, which had impressions from a series of classic artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh, Monet and Georgia O'Keefe.

For two hours a week on Fridays, Hollis brought her students together to work on the chairs, which she bought at yard sales and the students sanded before painting.

The pupils had never painted with acrylics before and did not know how to mix paints, which made it "a learning experience from ground zero," as Hollis termed it.

But with a lot of time, instruction and patience, the results were phenomenal. Some children found out that they had a natural gift. Since HUSD students do not receive art instruction until middle school, it was a revelation for them.

"I got out all my art books and we sat down and read about all the great artists and masters," said Hollis, adding that early childhood introduction and exposure to art is critical to bringing out the artist in students. "Then they teamed up and picked an artist that they wanted to create."

In celebration of Youth Arts Month, organizers spread out the festival inside the Civic Center and on the adjacent grounds.

Art students from Humboldt Unified School District's elementary, middle and high schools, as well as three PV-based charter schools, had their artwork - from paintings to pottery to sketches - on display on the first, second and third floors.

On the third floor, where the former library's headquarters were, HUSD art students made crafts and conducted workshops on various art mediums while student musicians congregated outside to play.

Parent-teacher organizations from different schools also sold food and candy in the Civic Center to generate money that also will support the district's art programs.

"The more we can inspire kids to appreciate the arts - that will save our civilization," Hollis said.

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