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home : features : schools & education December 17, 2014

2/15/2012 9:08:00 AM
Big Top a big attraction for young artists
First-grader Matt Gillis cuts squares from a strip of paper as part of his Circus in Art activity presented by Prescott Art Docents.
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
First-grader Matt Gillis cuts squares from a strip of paper as part of his Circus in Art activity presented by Prescott Art Docents.
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
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The Prescott Art Docents visit Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley, Ariz., on Feb. 1, 2012, to offer its first of many presentation, Art at the Circus, to first- and second-graders. Students learned several elements of art and created their own artwork inspired by Henri Matisse's Le Cirque. Photos by Sue Tone.

Sue Tone

Early release Wednesdays gives Liberty Traditional School students time for learning about - and making - art as offered by knowledgeable Prescott Art Docents in a new After School Classical Art Program. The first session, Feb. 1, revolved around the Big Top.

"Alexander Calder, he loved the circus," Docent Doris Piatak told 40 first- and second-graders. Piatak has been a docent since 1996.

Calder's Circus Scene (1926), the first of a dozen or so slides, remained up on the screen while Piatak asked the youngsters to search for different shapes - circles, diamonds, squares - within the picture. Other slides elicited comments about the appeal of color versus black and white drawings; and the warmth of yellow, orange and red paint and bits of cool blue.

"Isn't it interesting when you have a lot of warm colors with a cool color in the middle, makes it look even more cool? This is called 'contrast,'" Piatak said.

The Art Docents teach the elements of art - such as shape, texture and color - and principles of design - like contrast, pattern and movement. They also talk about artists, culture and history.

Students looked at other circus works of art by Paul Klee, Norman Rockwell, Renoir, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso. Then Piatak explained the art activity and materials, and students got to work with the scissors and glue sticks.

Juliana Goswick, secretary of the LTS Parent-Teacher Organization and Extracurricular Activity Committee member, said she sent out inquiries to parents this fall asking about interest in the after-school Art Docent program. The response was overwhelming. "We had to turn students away," she said.

The first- and second-graders will participate in two more sessions - Animals in Art and Art in the Sky - and then 40 students in grades 3-4 will have three sessions, grades 5-6, and 7-8 to follow.

The Docents try to tie their topics in with classroom curriculum. For instance, Arizona History as Seen in Art is one theme for grades 3-4. They will present King Tut's Birthday to grades 5-6.

Local artists will visit the seventh- and eighth-graders, with artists Richard Huckeba and Ian Russell confirmed as speakers. They will talk about what inspires them in the process of creating art, and look at careers in the field of fine art.

Goswick said a $200 grant from MATForce, plus private donations and the PTO, supply art materials for the program. PTO volunteers and teachers set up, clean up, and supervise the activities.

"Some of students don't have the opportunity to go to art galleries," she said. "Next year we're hoping to operate as a club status, then we'll work out transportation for the Art Club to go to Phoenix and down to some museums."

The school also is working with Mike Vax, director of the Prescott Jazz Summit, to host a jazz concert and student musician workshop this spring, she added.

For more information about the Art Program, call LTS at 759-4500; for the Prescott Art Docents presenters, call Nancy Shugrue at 227-1374.

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