Youth Arts Spring blooming in Sonoma
March is National Youth Arts Month and has been celebrated in school districts across the country since the 1960s by showcasing students’ artwork. This year, with the support of the mayor, a host of local organizations and the school district it will be celebrated in Sonoma Valley.
Locally, Youth Arts Month will be more like a youth arts season because there will be shows running throughout the Spring highlighting students' work.
Mayor Sandra Lowe invited Creative Bridges to put together a student art show in the Sonoma City Council chambers, along with a proclamation in support of arts in the valley with a rotating display continuing in the council chambers.
The Council chambers will be opened early, on March 15 at 5:30 p.m., for 30 minutes so that the artwork can be viewed before the City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. Mayor Lowe will read her proclamation about supporting the arts and talk about the new and ongoing art shows that will be hung in the Council Chambers.
“Empowering youth in the valley is critical to the City of Sonoma, that is why we now have a youth member on every city commission. I can't wait to look out from the dais and see the art display. It's a reminder to all of us to be inclusive and welcome the contributions of our residents... at every age,” Lowe said.
The student artwork that will be hung in the council chambers is coming from Adele Harrison and Altimira middle schools’ and Sonoma Valley and Creekside high schools’ visual arts departments. It will be two dimensional work, drawings, paintings, photographs and prints. The City of Sonoma Cultural and Fine Arts Commission will take on the program and rotate artists each month.
At the end of March, the Arts Guild of Sonoma will be hosting their popular “Small But Grand” show of local student artwork. The Sonoma Valley Hospital has started a rotating bi-monthly art show of student artwork and the Sonoma Community Center has an upcoming student art show.
The museum will have an “ARTS” show later in the Spring and several other organizations are organizing performance and art shows as well. The high school will host a highly anticipated student show later in the Spring.
Connie Schlelein is a founding member of Creative Bridges, a nonprofit that has brought together 35 organizations, businesses, parents and the school district to support the arts for all local children. We spoke with Schlelein about the need for support of the arts and why it is important to have public viewings of students’ endeavors in the arts.
“Schools didn't have as much money after Prop 13, so arts education was one of the first programs that got cut,” Schlelein said. “So the culture of every community, including ours, has been affected by students not being able to have creative expression, or learning about visual or performing arts. It's probably permeated every aspect of our culture and citizens.”
Californians came together to demand support for arts education, culminating in the passage of Proposition 28 last November which will provide funding for additional staff and supplies for California school arts curriculum.
Schlelein explained that arts education encourages students to use their whole brains. “It encourages innovating, learning not just to take their first idea, but to really work on ideas and understand critical thinking skills. These can then be applied across disciplines and actually helps literacy and numeracy. Having a whole brain approach to educating our students is huge.”
Antonia Valente is an 18 year old senior at Sonoma Valley High School and is in her second year of photography. She will have a photographic print of her own drawing of a bison in the council chambers show. “I enjoy creating art because I love seeing how the effort I put into a project pays off,” Valente said. “Having my art displayed is very exciting. I’m happy that people will be able to see what I create.”
Lola Martin is also an 18 year old Sonoma Valley High School senior. She’s going to have a studio portrait photograph in the council chambers show. “What I like best about creating art is the ability to transfer your ideas, emotions and feelings to a physical state,” Martin said. “It feels very fulfilling to have my art publicly displayed.”
‘Small But Grand’
The Arts Guild of Sonoma gallery and the Sonoma Plein Air foundation are again coming together for the “Small But Grand” student art show featuring 8-inch by 10 inch works by local students.
The show will feature 100 pieces of artwork, 50 pieces from Sonoma Valley High School and 50 are from Adele Harrison and Altimira Middle Schools.
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