Anna Schuessler/Daily Journal
Selby Lane third-grader Katherine Lucero explains that mixing paints to get the right colors for her ‘Starry Night’ painting was the most difficult part of her art project.
Selby Lane seventh-graders Bryan Avalos, Andrea Flores and Jaclyn Ramos work on art projects inspired by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky’s famous works.
Peninsula students will have a window into the life of an artist at the Art Center of Redwood City and San Carlos’ first Young Artists Reception Friday.
For Kelly Bravo, who has helped students engage with famous artwork and creating their own art pieces for some 12 years through with the Menlo Park nonprofit Art in Action, the event presents a rare opportunity to drive the powerful connection between creating and displaying art home for young students.
“They definitely have a huge sense of pride that their piece was picked to be hung,” she said.
Bravo manages the training of parent volunteers engaging students with art projects in Peninsula classrooms as Art in Action’s program manager for the last five years. Though she has seen opportunities for students to learn about art flourish through the program, she has also seen space where art projects can be hung and celebrated dwindle as school hallways fill up and local libraries have reorganized with less open wall space.
When Bravo’s good friend Rebecca Bangs, president of the Art Center of Redwood City and San Carlos, asked her if she had enough wall space for student projects, Bravo jumped at her question.
“We’re seeing a need in the community where people need a place to display,” said Bangs. “When we started looking at alternate ways we could help promote art within the community, I started a conversation with [Bravo] of ‘hey, do you guys have enough display space?’”
Now Bravo and Bangs, who both were both Art in Action parent volunteers and met when their children attended Brittan Acres Elementary School in San Carlos, are pooling their resources to host an art show for students from schools in Redwood City, San Carlos and Atherton.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, student artists will share their work with the general public at the Art Center of Redwood City and San Carlos. Hundreds of pieces of art from students in kindergarten through eighth-grade at Selby Lane Elementary School in Atherton, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Redwood City, Adelante Spanish Immersion School in Redwood City, Taft Elementary School in Redwood City and Arbor Bay School in San Carlos, will cover the walls of the Art Center at 1700 Industrial Road in San Carlos.
As the seven walls she is dedicating to the event fill up, Bangs has seen a buzz among the community of artists gathered at the Art Center. The Art Center provides studio, show and classroom space for local artists, many of whom are professionals looking for a community where they can work and share their art.
“The artists have been very thrilled,” she said. “It’s so exciting the kid art mingled with our art.”
For Bravo, the celebration of student artwork in the midst of professional pieces draws an important connection between what students are working on in the classroom and what is possible for students pursuing art projects.
“I think it will be really cool for the kids to see their art next to professional artists’ work, and for them to see what people are doing to make a living out of art,” she said.
Though Friday’s event might be the first time some students will get a chance to see where professional artists work, their monthly Art in Action classes have given them a window into the lives of artists who have created the seminal works of their time.
Jackie Ward has been a parent volunteer for Art in Action classes at Selby Lane Elementary School in Atherton for the past 12 years. Ward has three children who have or currently attend the school, and helps students bring the school hallways to life with their projects, reminiscent of famous artworks and styles.
Ward said the middle school curriculum for Art in Action classes corresponds with the material students are covering in their social studies classes. Third-grade students at Selby Lane recently completed projects inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” giving them a window into the events influencing the 19th century artist’s colorful, textured landscape and portrait paintings.
During the hourlong sessions Ward leads, she sees students use their imaginations, putting themselves in the shoes of the artists to better understand why they made specific decisions in their art. Ward knows that these classes are, for some students, the only opportunity for them to engage with art, which makes them all the more critical.
“They’re not exposed to it,” she said. “We don’t go to museums.”
From seeing several parent volunteers helping to hang artwork and ensure there are kid-friendly refreshments for Friday’s event, Bangs is well aware these opportunities for students to engage with art would not be possible without parent support.
“Very often the parents are sort of the unsung heroes with Art in Action,” she said.
For Bravo and Bangs, who are both working toward making an art a fixture in the community, Friday’s event is a celebration of everyone involved in creating and showing art.
“It teaches the kids that when you are an artist and you create, part of that is to share your artwork with the community,” said Bravo. “Sticking it in the garage is not completing the cycle of creation.”
The Young Artists Reception will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 10, at the Art Center of Redwood City and San Carlos, 1700 Industrial Road in San Carlos.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102