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´Til Dawn’s Mini-Arts Showcases

´Til Dawn SingsAre you free Monday nights? Soothe your spirit with inspiration from ´Til Dawn, whose members are finding innovative ways to express themselves on the virtual stage.

Through Sept. 14, the young artists are joining together in mini-arts showcases, performing original songs, leading virtual yoga flows, juggling, movement, cooking and more.  The artistry happens on Zoom from 6:40 p.m.

´Til Dawn Director Austin Willacy, who also performs as a solo artist and as a member of The House Jacks, said he wanted to find a way to have an end-of-the-year celebration since the group’s regular spring concert was cancelled because of COVID-19.
“These young people have been working really hard, both at being both a really supportive community during this uncertain time and at finding alternate ways to express themselves as artists and creatives,” Austin said. “These showcases provide a way to get to know the members individually. There’s a lot of hidden talent we’ve discovered.”
The Youth in Arts’ a cappella ensemble has 13 performers. Each showcase features two or three members at a time. At the first Aug. 10 event, Aidan Bergman juggled and taught his audience how to juggle virtually while Megan Shindelus led viewers through a series of yoga poses and performed an original song.
“Although we cannot perform together, the individuals who comprise ´Til Dawn have varied interests and are involved in a lot of really interesting stuff during quarantine,” Austin said.
Once the quarantine began, Austin learned quickly that he had to redirect the focus of how the group spends its time since it could no longer rehearse and harmonize together in person. Rather than learning a song they might not ever perform, ´Til Dawn members have been perfecting recordings of their work.
And, at their twice-weekly rehearsals, Austin also facilitated songwriting groups via Zoom breakout rooms.
“Right now, we’re not able to perform for audiences and receive that sense of completion and that form of positive feedback, so we shifted our goals; now we’re writing beautiful songs and compiling some great recordings,” Austin said. “It’s a tangible record of the work we have done.”

 The details:

Zoom Meeting ID: 891 1061 7564
Password: WhX6Bu

 DATES: Monday nights, Aug. 17, 24 and 31; Sept. 7, 14

TIME:  6 – 6:45 p.m.
Please join us!

Creating a Community of Learners in a Digital Landscape

How can educators create a community of learners through a digital landscape during COVID-19? How do you get students outdoors in the sunshine with distance learning? How can educators inspire kids to love science if they are looking at computers instead of watching an otter swim? 

Youth in Arts Executive Director Kristen Jacobson and Program Director Kelsey Rieger co-facilitated a professional development training for more than 90 TK-12 teachers considering just that. Led by the Marin Office of Education, the team included the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the River Otter Ecology Project and UC Berkeley. Together we looked at the limitations of virtual learning and how to use project-based lessons to create “inquiry driven experiences” for students.

“It was an eye-opening and inspiring week for all – facilitators and participants alike. As a team, we modeled how to use digital tools to move beyond the computer screen,” Kristen said. “Seeing educators design and construct a new framework before our eyes was so encouraging as we look to the fall semester. We were thrilled to be involved.”

The Aug. 3-7 virtual event revolved around the theme My Place in the Watershed: Return of the River Otters. The interactive workshops supported educators in finding ways to support students in their creativity, development and expression during the coronavirus pandemic, when meeting physically in schools may not happen again for a while.

Each day, the workshops began with Social Emotional Learning activities through visual and performing arts. The activities focused on one of the five components of SEL: self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. The Youth in Arts team grounded participants with connection to breath, body and self while then building on with activities to explore each SEL component.

“Students will be returning with a sense of imbalance, fear, anxiety and stress. It’s so important to start with space for wellness and processing,” Kristen said. “Breaking through the 2-dimensional world at the semester’s start will be a crucial first step as teachers guide learning in this unprecedented way.

“This workshop proved that it is possible. Teachers embraced movement and visual arts-based explorations of self, community, emotion and environment.  The comments on the last day reflected that they felt more prepared to meet their students in this way.” 

Other challenges educators considered included the engineering design process for young students as well as global change. Questions posed to educators include How do I connect to diversity? and How do I build  a community focused on equality and social justice? How do I fit into systems I am a part of?

This program was generously supported by a grant from the Marin Community Foundation and the NOAA. 




Outside the Lines, Inside the Windows

Look inside our YIA Gallery windows and enjoy a world of color: the wonderful artwork from our Arts Unite Us program!

Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art from Special Day Classrooms will fill the front windows of the YIA Gallery so viewers can enjoy the show from the sidewalk. Additionally, artwork will be viewable digitally on our social media platforms. The artwork was created this spring by K to 12 students experiencing disabilities. 

The exhibition opens Friday, Aug. 14, to coincide with the 2nd Friday Artwalk in downtown San Rafael. It includes self portraits, collages and collaborative work as well as a digital screening of  paintings and sculpture from classrooms across Marin County that are not included in the window display.

“Despite school closures in early March, Youth in Arts was able to work with students through our Arts Unite Us residency program serving Special Day Classrooms thanks to the coordination and support of teachers, paraeducators, the Marin County Office of Education, the VSA Kennedy Center, students, and all of our students’ families,” said Youth in Arts Program Director Kelsey Rieger. 

“This year, the Outside the Lines exhibition has extra special meaning because it gives us the chance to celebrate what that coming together over the last few months has looked like,” she said. “We can’t wait to share it with the community.”

The gallery at 917 C St. is one of the few venues in the nation devoted to showing children’s art. The inside of the gallery is temporarily closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions. Mentor artists who taught in the Arts Unite Us program include: Cathy Bowman, Julia James, Suzanne Joyal, Marty Meade and Lisa Summers. 

Since 1981, Youth in Arts has been an affiliate of Very Special Arts (VSA), a nonprofit organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program is largely supported by a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The program also receives support from the Marin Community Foundation, Marin Charitable and the Buck Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation.


Join Us Friday for Sip & Bid!

Looking for a fun adventure this Friday? Relax at home and “raise your paddle” at Youth in Arts’s Sip & Bid.

The virtual wine auction at 6 p.m. (Pacific Time) on July 24. The one-hour live event features rare wines, exclusive tasting experiences and Northern California getaways. Attendance is free!

 We’re grateful for the generous support of several wineries, including Gundlach Bundschu, Three Sticks Wines and Bar None’s Canyon.

Bar None’s Canyon Old Vine Zinfandel grapes are grown in Nuns Canyon Vineyard, overlooking the beautiful Valley of the Moon.  

“We think it’s the best place to grow Zinfandel — bar none!” said owner Kimberly Hughes, who calls herself “a grape grower and art enthusiast.”

In Nuns Canyon Vineyard, Bar None’s Canyon grows Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. For the Sip & Bid, Bar None’s Canyon is offering a Visit-the-Vineyard wine tasting for four during this year’s fall harvest. Guests even get a bottle of their award-winning Zinfandel to take home!

“Since we live in Marin, we thought the Youth in Arts’ Sip & Bid would be a fun way to help academic arts, locally,” Kimberly said. “Art is such a creative outlet for kids. Art brings joy and fun to learning, and helps keep kids engaged in school as they grow up. Art instruction has also been shown to improve kids’ grades and ability to learn other subjects. Likely, no child ever said they didn’t want to go to art class.”

Another winery with a rich history is Gundlach Bundschu – affectionately called GunBun by the locals.

Gundlach Bundschu is the oldest family run winery in California. Started in 1858, it covers 320 acres and produces 11 varietals of wine. The winery has donated four bottles of their Vintage Reserve, a high-end Bordeaux blend from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Each year, the winery works with a different artist to create a special label.

The winery also donated two tickets to its well known Huichica Music Festival. Usually held in June, the popular event has been rescheduled this year for Oct. 16-17 (tickets are transferable should they have to postpone).

 “Gundlach Bundschu finds it extremely important to foster the arts in our community and our youth,” said Hospitality Manager Jessica Thornton.  “We have showcased music on our family vineyard for generations and have repeatedly stood witness to the powerful interplay of music, the arts and wine.  By supporting Youth in Arts, we can play a part in young and local artists to continue their passion and education.”

 The Sip & Bid will also feature a three-bottle vertical of Durell Chardonnay and private tasting from Three Sticks, a boutique winery designated one of the top 50 producers in Sonoma by Wine Spectator. The four person tasting experience can be redeemed either in person at the historic Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe just off the Sonoma square, or as a virtual tasting in the comfort of your home. Three Sticks is known for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, said Public Relations Manager Maral Papakhian.

 “We are participating in Youth in Arts’ Sip & Bid because we believe in supporting our California community, particularly local nonprofits like Youth in Arts that work towards inclusion and empowerment of young artists of all backgrounds,” Maral said. “Art, like wine, spreads joy to the community and builds connection. We all need that more than ever today and especially our youth.”

Other participating businesses include Blue Farm Wines, Chateau St. Jean, Hamel Family Wines, Paul Hobbs Winery, SFMOMA, Sophie James Wine Co., Williams Selyem, Wise Sons Delicatessen and more. Ed Gold of Stellar Fundraising Auctions is the live auctioneer.

If reading about fine wine is making you dream about fine wine, you won’t want to miss Friday’s Re-Stock Your Wine Cellar raffle, which features 20 bottles of wine valued at more than $500. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100 (to purchase raffle tickets, email Development Associate Morgan Schauffler).

View more exciting auction items in the catalog here.

Thank you to our Sip & Bid sponsors, Troutman Sanders and Bank of Marin, for supporting this event, which will help us continue reaching students through distance learning. Our mission at Youth in Arts is to support creativity, confidence and compassion with innovative programs in visual art, theater, dance and music that are designed to reach all learners of all abilities.

Marty Meade Moves On

Mentor Artist Marty Meade

After more than 35 years of teaching, beloved Youth in Arts mentor artist Marty Meade is retiring.

The 81-year-old West Marin artist is looking forward to spending more time at home with her husband and doing her own art. Although she learned how to make videos for Youth in Arts when the coronavirus pandemic hit, online teaching is not for her.

“I need the connection with people,” she said.

For more than 35 years, Marty has worked with young people who have experienced trauma, from violent home situations to substance abuse. 

“Most of these kids are unlikeable, and others so depressed that you just try to get a smile,” she said affectionately. “They are angry and hurt. I love trying to soften them and get their trust.”

Marty became a certified art therapist in 1988. She worked in various programs and schools in Marin throughout the years, usually with the same group of young people. For the past several years she has worked at Compass Academy in Novato. The Marin County Office of Education program is an alternative K-12 school for young people experiencing mental health or emotional challenges.

Years ago, Marty learned that giving a typical art lesson wouldn’t work. Instead, she brought three projects to choose from to hold their attention. Typically she worked with eight students at a time. The tools varied, from marbling paper to painting, but always offered young artists a chance to experiment and explore.

While making art, discussions revealed deep truths about her students that they otherwise might not share. In turn, she shared stories from her own life, including how she and other family members faced prejudice for their Native American and Mexican ancestry.

“It’s not the stuff you hang on the walls,’’ she said. “It’s the connections with the kids.”

One thing she won’t miss is dealing with the discomfort of administrators and clinical staff when students used strong language in their art. That potency was powerful and authentic, Marty said, often containing clues about what students were experiencing in their lives.

“You have to be watching all the time,” she said. “I see all sorts of magical things come up.”

Marty will keep painting and making glass art. As covid restrictions allow, she will continue teaching watercolor at the San Geronimo Community Center through the College of Marin. She also teaches glass art to a small group at her home.

Marty will also continue her work as a member of the Board of Directors with In SPIRIT. She helped the late Aniece Taylor found the nonprofit 35 years ago to help people who are quadriplegic remain at home.