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YIA News

RileyStreet Art Supply Supports Youth in Arts

Mike Roche and Miko Lee

Mike Roche accepts the 2017 Pamela Levine award from former Executive Director Miko Lee

 

 

Youth in Arts is honored to have the support of many community partners, and we’re especially grateful to RileyStreet Art Supply.

Owners Mike and Sevastjana Roche are longtime arts supporters and have been working with Youth in Arts since their San Rafael store opened in 2007. Their main store is in Santa Rosa, which they bought more than 20 years ago. Mike also serves on the board of the National Art Materials Trade Association, which has an arts advocacy program.

RileyStreet gives Youth in Arts a generous discount for supplies we purchase for our school programs and donated art materials. We’re thankful to our individual donors, but sometimes there are materials we need to buy because of the number of students we serve.

Mike said he likes to support Youth in Arts because of the depth and scope of our work.

“Youth in Arts is genuinely there to support the arts in their own community, and even regionally,” he said. “It was the most complete organization I felt was out there that was supporting the arts.”

In 2017, Mike won Youth in Arts’ Pamela Levine Arts Education Leadership Award for helping families displaced by the North Bay fires. Through his suppliers and from his own donations, Mike gathered nearly $100,000 worth of art materials that was used to make kits for children in Sonoma County.

Mike generously gave half of the $1,000 Pamela Levine award back to Youth in Arts and spent the other half to thank his employees.

Those employees are part of what makes RileyStreet Art Supply so special. Nearly all of them are practicing artists or have art degrees, and their expertise is invaluable.

“I just don’t want to be a vending machine,” Mike said. “The store always wants to be involved in the community.”

What are some of the most popular sellers? Tubes of acrylic Titanium White, 2B and 4B pencils and black hardcover sketchbooks. The most unusual item he sells? Something called a popper, a toy that shoots a little ball out of its mouth. 

Mike chuckles about the toy. Sure, it’s not really an art material, but RileyStreet likes to offer unique gift items that you might not find elsewhere.

“They make people happy,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a few challenges. Both stores closed temporarily, but then reopened to curbside pickup. They were reorganized and streamlined before opening to walk-in traffic  in June. Online business boomed during the closure.

Mike said it has been crucial to get supplies into the hands of customers. Professional artists needed supplies, and college students still needed materials to finish projects while distance learning. 

“Art education is an extremely important part of our business,” he said. “We’re really in the business of people.” 

Thanks, Mike and Sevastjana, for all you do!

 

 

 

Oak Hill Explores Self Portraits

Danya makes a silly face

How can you draw your friend on a Zoom call? How can you explore identity with a can opener and a spoon? Despite the challenges brought forth from necessary distance learning approaches, Oak Hill School students found ways to do just that through our Arts Unite Us program.

Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman had just started her 10-week residency with educator Danya Lebell’s class when the pandemic forced the school to close abruptly. Using what students had on hand at home, Cathy changed the curriculum to focus on self portraits and identity, working with both students and paraprofessionals.  

For the first online class, we took turns making different faces and posing for each other. We quickly found out that it was a challenge to work on Zoom, as staring at the tiny green dot of the camera isn’t the same as looking into someone’s eyes. For artists experiencing disabilities, eye contact is especially crucial for interpersonal engagement. Despite these challenges, the activity was a perfect fit for students as they begin exploring job opportunities. Learning to read facial expressions is key!

portraits

Monica makes a sad face

The following week we explored drawing profiles while making different expressions. A week later we practiced blind contour drawing. We hid our paper and drawing hand in a grocery bag and drew each other without lifting our pencils or peeking inside our bags. The faces didn’t look like we expected, but we made some interesting line drawings.

For our final class, we used kitchen utensils and other objects. Students and paraprofessionals made four different portraits, each time rearranging the items in a different way. It was amazing to see how many expressions a can opener could make.

“I  wanted students to use art to explore thinking outside the box,” Cathy said. “Given the complex challenges of our world, staying flexible and confident in our choices is more important than ever.”

 

Blind Contour Drawing

Cathy’s blind contour drawing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raining Colors! at San Marin High School

Collaboration and problem solving, self-advocacy & awareness, and building new art skills were among Mentor Artist Lisa Summers’ exciting student goals in Brian Khoury’s class at San Marin High School. Through YIA’s Arts Unite Us program, Lisa worked with students in small groups for the first several weeks on skill-building lessons and projects that emphasized how we recognize emotions through facial expressions and how those facial expressions are communicated in art. Students used cardboard shapes and scraps (and Googly eyes!) to assemble faces that evoked emotions ranging from joy, sadness, humor and anger, to frustration, curiosity, and confusion by looking at the relative position of eyes (up eyes, down eyes, sideways eyes), eyebrows, and smiles vs. frowns.

In the second part of the residency students developed understanding of shapes, proportions, scale, shape, contrast and dimensional perspective by working with pastels and paint, Model Magic and blocks, collage, and even a stack of chocolate chips cookies.

Questions were focused on contrasts and comparisons between solids and patterns, opacity and translucency, two and three dimensions, and foreground and background. In the “Rainy Day” projects, students used patterned paper, colored paper, ink washes, pastels, metallic paint, and permanent markers to create a composition of a single figure standing in a downpour. Many students took this opportunity to explore rain gear fashion design including bat-themed umbrellas and raincoats. Students discussed shadows and negative space, and the visual impact of a gray-toned ink wash against the bright colors of the umbrella and raincoat. Students were asked to share their reflections on how their artwork said something unique about themselves, their interests, and their individual preferences for colors and materials.

A special thanks to the following organizations for making this program possible:

Engaging Through Art

 

With so much change happening in our world, art is a powerful tool for self expression.We’ve been moved by photos of people making art from the simplest materials. Flower petals turned into hearts. Food crumbs that inspired a face. Drying dishes? A quick still life.

In communities throughout the Bay Area, people have written messages in sidewalk chalk. Tiny hands have scrawled signs of encouragement in the window. Children have made morning altars of gratitude from flower petals and leaves. One family made their own giving tree, hanging it with tags suggesting ways to support Black Lives Matter. In another neighborhood, children painted rocks of hope and nestled them in the trunk of their old palm tree.

Morning altars

Morning altar in Novato

How does art show up in your life and sustain you in uncertain times? How can art support equity in your community? If you are making art, where are you making it, who are you making it for, and why?

Photo credit: Thanks to artist Nathalie Valette (blue plate, drying dishes and tree tags); artist Eve Aldridge (chalk message), and to the artists who made the hearts and altar.

What Makes Vallecito Students Powerful?

When Vallecito Elementary School students return to their school, they will see an outdoor mural that graduating 5th graders left for them – all of it created through distance learning.

Youth in Arts had just begun a partnership with the San Rafael school when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close. Pivoting quickly, Program Director Kelsey Rieger worked with Principal Elizabeth Foehr and teachers Erin Baker, Robin Hassan, Sarah Lai, Julie McKeon and Hildie Sims to find a way to do the mural digitally. The project included 5th graders from five different classes.

“The teachers and the staff are the ones that made it happen, hands down,” Kelsey said. “The school still really wanted to provide this opportunity for the 5th graders, especially since Shelter in Place was taking a lot of their last year away from them.”

First, Kelsey filmed short instructional videos from home that explained the project. Students began by creating identity maps in the shape of a starburst. Kelsey explains, “We looked at the things that make up who we are, and what aspects of this identity we give to ourselves and also aspects given to us by other people. From there, each students created what we call a Power Word by choosing a part of their identity that they felt was most representative of who they are and that made them feel powerful.”

Students chose words like ardent, adventurous, creative, kind, ambitious, brave, and hopeful.

 

The finished mural

Using the Principles of Design, they then talked about how shape, color, texture and scale can be used to communicate messaging more effectively. Together, they also discussed typographical concepts and how to pay attention to spacing and shape to keep things legible. “Our goal was to create our own font for our Power Words that would further convey the meaning of that word based on the students’ interpretations and values,” Kelsey explains.

Students photographed their art and sent it to their teachers, who  sent it directly to Kelsey. Again, teacher participation was key. Because Kelsey never saw the students, she relied on teachers to communicate any questions or areas that the students required more support in. “I wasn’t with them in the classroom, so I couldn’t respond to student cues like you normally do when you’re teaching something new,” Kelsey said.

Upon completion, the mural was created from over 80 Power Words using materials students had at home – colored pencils, regular pencils, paint and markers. A few artists created their work digitally. The completed collaged mural was delivered to the school, where it will be installed for fellow students to engage with when they return in the Fall.

“They did a great job,” Kelsey said. “The works were personal and thoughtful, and were excellent examples of how the arts can bring us together in extremely unique and unexpected ways.”

Special thanks to the Vallecito PTA, educators, and staff for helping to make this project possible.

The teachers who made it possible