Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Third Annual "A Taste of Art" Summer Youth Program

Benjamin (age nine) created this tribute to Pollock at the Third Annual "A Taste of Art" Summer Youth Program sponsored by The Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council (MECAC), a group founded by poet Judith Deem Dupree four years ago. She asked for my help, seeing that I am the organized, detailed left-brained type and she is the creative, big-picture, vision-oriented right brain artist. Our joke is that between us we have one brain. :)

This summer was our third foray into children's "art camps." The first year we had classes every Tuesday over the month of July, running in both Lake Morena (near Campo) and Pine Valley. Last year we stuck to Pine Valley only and did it all in a single week, Monday-Thursday. And this summer we did the same. We averaged between 25-30 kids each day this summer, a slight increase over the last two summer programs. The kids pay a nominal price of $5 per class to cover materials, and we've come out even or a bit ahead the first two years; I didn't run this year's program so I don't know if we broke even this summer, although I assume we did. We also provided "scholarships" for families who couldn't afford the fees.

Myrna Mora and Mary Aragon organized this summer's classes, with Marshall Chapman taking care of the boat building and races. The younger kids (ages 6-11) worked on different projects each day: boats, painting abstract designs on gessoed Masonite boards, making abstract mobiles, carving and painting plaster casts, and finally making Pollock-inspired dribbled canvases like Benjamin's above. The best of the projects were shown in the MECAC booth at Pine Valley Days. Benjamin had two pieces on display: the above Pollock canvas and an abstract painting on Masonite.

Keith loved Benjamin's Pollock painting so much that he stretched and nailed it to a wooden mount and plans to frame it. It's hanging above his desk in our kitchen at present and looks wonderful. Abstract art isn't really our thing, but we see much talent in Benjamin's piece and especially the colors he used: deep forest green, ochre, a rusty red, black, greyish tan. It's a wonderful piece, especially by a nine-year-old.

Our older three kids worked on the same project all week: a mosaic mural of our town on canvases, designed by Dianne Holly. Each young person between the ages of 12 and 17 painted their own individual canvas according to a pre-determined color scheme given them on a small card, and when all the canvases are put together, we have a mural of the main street of Pine Valley that will be presented as a gift to the Pine Valley Improvement Club (PVIC) to be hung permanently in the Pine Valley Community Clubhouse.

If you would like to see photos from this summer's program, please click on this link: MECAC "A Taste of Art" 2009. Although I'm more on the periphery of MECAC this past year as a result of my busy schedule, I am still involved in some of the projects, and I am especially proud of "A Taste of Art." It was one of our first artistic outreaches into the community, a community in which art is taught in the schools only because of the efforts of the Art Docent Program (in which I volunteered when Jonathan was at Pine Valley Elementary), funded by the PTA and not the schools as our district is the most under-funded in the state of California.

The kids up here are literally art-starved, so providing "A Taste of Art" may be a child's first introduction to holding a quality paint brush, painting on a genuine art canvas, etc. Our goal: provide a "taste" of different artistic genres in order to excite kids about art and provide a creative outlet for them as most creative opportunities have been denied these backcountry children. That's why I'm so proud of this program and of MECAC in general ... and of our Benjamin whose artistic talent is rapidly developing.

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