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San Rafael, California 94901
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Sweetwater Reopens with `Til Dawn

On February 12 Mill Valley’s famed Sweetwater Music Hall reopens its doors with youth performances including `Til Dawn.  From 5-8pm, don’t miss the excitement!

Integration Inspiration: Performance!

We recently filled you in on the playmaking process over at Tamalpais High School.  Students collaborated to write, direct, design, produce and perform their own play for the school’s Winter One Act Play Festival.  The show’s run at the Caldwell Theatre was a huge success!  Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs led a joint effort between students from Mr. Lovejoy’s Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) Special Ed class and the school’s excellent Conservatory Theatre Ensemble (CTE).  YIA Mentor Artist Donna Ozawa worked with a group of Mr. Lovejoy’s students to create all of the props and stagecraft used in the play.  This replicable arts integration program was designed to bridge gaps between students of differing abilities.

We’re going to let the students toot their own horn here and tell you about their success!

Students acknowledge their cheering (standing!) audience

“I was so happy at the end.  We crafted that play out of nothing.  I’m just so proud of everything we’ve done.  Not just the performance, the whole process.  So many people have come up to me… the audience was shocked.  I mean, we got a standing ovation!”  – Glyn

Students rehearse the blocking for a lift at the end of the play

“I feel proud… I know what to do!”  -Jake

Students perform the lift onstage in "Her Face to the Sky"

“It was really good [to be onstage.] The lift was hard.  I felt kinda nervous, and proud.  Proud of myself.” -Maribel

Performing together onstage at Tamalpais High School

“It’s not about just me.  I have to pay attention and observe.  I have to work together as a group.” – Monica

Waiting to greet family & friends in the Theatre lobby

“My whole family was so impressed with what we did.  It was special because of the collaboration.” -Allison

Students celebrate with friends, family & teachers

“I have to say, I felt famous!” -Tevin

Among the reasons Tevin felt famous was an article in their local paper about their work.  He also may have been responding to an enhanced profile on this sprawling campus.  Over the weeks of rehearsal and performance more and more of their student peers, unrelated to the project, reached out to them.  Stopping Tevin in the hall to ask when the show was, dropping by Mr. Lovejoy’s class on the way to lunch to say hi to Jake, or asking Maribel how rehearsal were going.  And campus feedback following the performance only fueled further integration and dialogue.  Monica’s response to congratulations from her peers on the performance was to remind them of their playmaking process:

“I always tell people,‘Thanks, we WROTE it!’ and they are just like:  ‘HOW?!’  It’s such a hard thing to do but we wrote a great play!”

A board in the Theatre lobby depicts the playmaking process

Feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and department/ district heads was glowing.  We hope to be able to expand this opportunity for collaboration in communities throughout the Bay Area.  Theatre integrates our inherent creativity and need to connect with the continued development of communication and life skills. It bridges seemingly vast gaps in our abilities and income levels – helping students see the we in a world full of me.  Plus, its “crazy fun”!  Reactions, like Glyn’s below, to the rigorous curriculum, rehearsals and high artistic standards of this arts integration project epitomize our goal:

“It was so rewarding at the end.  I was so happy and proud of everyone!”

So were we.

Youth in Arts is dedicated to serving youth of all abilities with high quality arts programming.  We created the Arts Unite Us program with seed funds from the Special Hope Foundation, and this project at Tam High has been supported by grants from the Green Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. We are grateful for their generous support.  For more information on how you can support this type of programming, visit our support page, or visit our store at 917  C St. in downtown San Rafael.

Marindale: How do We use our SENSES when we Create?

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal is working with four classrooms at Marindale in San Rafael, and students of all abilities are exploring the same Essential Question. In week one, we started with Texture: how can we FEEL things when we create?

Parent Training in Castro Valley

Suzanne Joyal and Nydia Gonzalez travelled to Castro Valley to offer a hands-on workshop to parents of the Castro Valley Parents Cooperative Preschool. The one-hour workshop introduced parents to a multitude of strategies to introduce preschoolers to art.

We both arrived wearing our FAVORITE piece of preschool jewelry: the mini-harmonica is always a hit!

We asked the question “How do we use our senses when we create?” and then explored first-hand techniques to help children experiment and explore this fundamental question.
Parents were able to create Sticky Texture Collages using contact paper, many different shapes and textures of fabric, special crayons to draw on all different textures, and magic gold.
We created a Word Wall of all of the wonderful ideas we explored: sticky, smooth, shiny, furry, scratchy, etc. Nydia introduced music and movement when she asked “How does Scratchy SOUND?” “How do we does bumpy look when we move?”

Prop Building and Stagecraft @ Tam High

An earlier post describes the theater production of the original one-act play lead by YIA Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs in collaboration with students from Mr. Michael Lovejoy’s Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) Special Ed class.

Mentor Artist Donna Keiko Ozawa joined the production in December to work with the students on stage props and sets. Here are some photos of the process.

Some of the students’ characters required props they could carry on stage. These were fabricated from simple materials: cardboard, wood, craft foam, metal hinges, and stickers. Students learned how to drill, and colored the wood with permanent markers.

Tevin and Donna construct a cellphone.

Mentor Artist Donna Keiko Ozawa assists Tevin with marking holes for the hinge on the cellphone prop.

Tevin loves woodworking.

Maribel enjoys working with tools.

Jake drilling

Jake learns to drill holes for a hinge.

Various cellphones, PDAs and camera props for the show that students made.

Students also used rubber stamps on foam core to create a miniature cityscape to represent San Francisco on one side of  our large prop of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This process also took into account students’ physical and cognitive abilities to create an aesthetic that worked well with theme of the show.  (Spoiler: There is an earthquake involved…)

The cityscape assembled and will be seen off the Bridge (a larger prop not pictured here).

Maggie working on the fascade of a building in the cityscape prop.

Buildings students stamped for the cityscape.

The cityscape prop is light and portable for quick placement on stage.

Can you imagine this cargo ship off the Bay in the distance? (Foamcore, paint, cardboard, hot glue).

Show time is January 12 and 17. Please join us on Thursday January 12th or 19th at 7PM, Tam High’s Caldwell Theatre, 700 Miller Avenue (near the back parking lot) Mill Valley, CA.  Box office opens at 6:30PM and advance tickets are available online as well.

Laurel Dell students Create “Our World” Mural

Every student at Laurel Dell Elementary School worked together to create an 8′ x 8′ painted mural on the theme “Our World” with Mentor Artist Angela Baker. The nine classes of K-5th grade students prepared for the mural painting by practicing color mixing and paintbrush techniques. Through discussion with both students and teachers, as well as sketching and painting exercises including family portraits, content for the mural was developed.

Below are quotes and photos of the students.

Sophia: “I’m going to be so satisfied when this is finished.”

Sindy: “The handprints on the land can represent the people who live there.”

Kimberly M. “I think we should put a graduation cap in the border because we’re graduating this year.”

Making Art To Music

"Art To Feelings" Mikyla 11-10-11

The artists at Bayside Elementary and Willow Creek Academy, working with youth in arts mentor artist Marguerite Etemad, made art to music.

First we gathered feeling words, bringing to our minds all the ways that we can feel. We looked at Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstract paintings for inspiration. Then the artists listened closely to the music. As they listened to the music they asked themselves the following questions. How does the music make me feel? What do I imagine?

What is the feeling? What is the Story?

Then they drew with oil pastels while listening to the music. Expressing their feelings and their imaginations in their work.

3rd Grade Bayside Elementary Artists 11-7-11

"The Drum Players" Talia 2nd grade artist Bayside Elementary 11-10-11

The artists listened to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and “The Beat of My Drum” by Babatunde Olatunji while making their art.

Willow Creek students Interior & Taco truck Free-Up!

2012 started off in fine style as art class was welcomed back with a fun “get back in stride” project. Students were given an option to be a interior designers or create their own banging custom taco truck. The energy was fun a upbeat as students were able to individualize their works with fun themes. This project will lead into a more in-depth interior design project-stay tuned!!-Peace Mr. K-Dub – Willow Creek Art teacher 5th-8th grades.

Making Art Journals

Students started this three day intro to the mural project by discussing a visual essay about journaling. We looked at multiple ways artists use journals, including writers and poets. Below right is an image of one of Walt Whitman’s journals, from 1855.

Artists on the Mural Team started by using collage, watercolors, and colored pencils. Personal thoughts and voices immediately started flowing from the students, who were thrilled to make the covers entirely of their own design.

Students use old magazines and collage papers to create layers of images on their Art Journal covers.

A collaged cover at the end of Day One

While working I asked students to describe for me their thinking process:

“This is going to be dark and myseterious and the back is going to be light and colorful.” Elena

While looking for collage images: “I’m finding things I find interesting, like the car lights. I like how on one side [of the highway] they’re all red and on the other side they’re all white.” Sonia

“I like making it all colorful and different and random. That’s how I always work, with random drawings, and by scribbling.” Rosvin

At the end of each session students gather for a reflection and critique in which we discuss what we NOTICE, THINK, and WONDER. In preparation for the mural we talked about color, composition, texture, layering, and more.

Reflection and critique

On days two and three students were encouraged to use acrylic paints to layer on top of their watercolor paintings or collages they had already created.

A student uses the primaries to mix colors and paint on top of her collage.

Students were extremely proud of their journal covers and wanted to share with everyone their thoughts and ideas. During the third class the kids interviewed each other—even coming up with their own questions. Videos to come! Here’s a transcript of one of the interviews.

Sonia: So, why did you join Youth in Arts?

Kathleen: Because I always love art but I don’t have a lot of art supplies at home and my mom doesn’t like the mess so I came here and it’s really fun. I get to hang out with my friends while doing art.

Sonia: What are you painting right now?

Kathleen: I am making the back cover of my art journal right now, using collage and painting.

Sonia: And why are you painting what you’re painting?

Kathleen: Because I like having different themes on all my pages. This one is like Hawaii and this one is mainly animals and arctic things, and then here is like the sunset and African animals.

Sonia: Are you excited about painting the mural?

Kathleen: Yes, because I want to be on TV and I want to be famous, because this could be the beginning of my stardom. And we get a plaque with our names on them and so I can say I made that to my grandchildren and it’s still there.

For more blog posts on the Davidson Mural Project, click here and here.

To get involved in the project Email Mentor Artist, Brooke Toczylowski, at We are looking for volunteers to help organize, paint, provide snacks, prep boards, and more.

Youth in Arts thanks Jerry Tallman of MinuteMan Press for donating the paper utilized in the journal process here and at many other sites.