Why do the arts matter? Look no further than Laurel Dell School.
The San Rafael elementary school recently celebrated its reopening with a joyful ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew dozens of students, staff and members of the community. Youth in Arts was there to celebrate its Architects in Schools program and to showcase the amazing work made during residencies last Fall while the school was being rebuilt.
Youth in Arts’ Visual Arts Director Suzanne Joyal presented Principal Pepe Gonzalez with the this year’s Pamela Levine award for his outstanding support of arts education. It was evident how much he is loved by the thick book Suzanne made that was filled with hundreds of cards and drawings from students, teachers and specialists. There were so many cards from well wishers that the book couldn’t hold them all.
Although Suzanne has never seen Pepe draw a picture, dance or sing, she considers him a kindred spirit who thinks like an artist.
“He enjoys the success that comes from solving problems as much as I do,” she said. “Mr. Gonzalez understand that the arts are about so much more than the pretty object we draw. The arts offer students a safe space to explore their world, to stand up to speak out and to believe in themselves.”
The day included visits to a special exhibition of work made with Youth in Arts’ architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Visitors were encouraged to look closely at how Youth in Arts teaches a sequential program in which skills are built upon from one year to the next. The lines and curves in a kindergarteners’ self portraits, for example, leads to a third graders’ colorful model of what Fourth Street in San Rafael could look like. That model gives fifth graders the skills they need to design spaces for the city’s future library.
Pairs of students from each class served as docents, giving tours, answering questions and explaining their work. Practicing speaking in public supports one of Youth in Arts’ goals: that students reflect upon making art and can speak confidently about their work. Third graders who worked with Shirl (creative director at UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN) will present their design and policy proposals for downtown San Rafael the city’s 2040 general plan steering committee on March 11.
The daylong celebration ended with a Family Art Night with Youth in Arts. Children in after school care, as well as families and friends, stopped by to make tiny bridges for crossing the canal. It required them to find a place where they thought a bridge was needed, then to measure the spot to make sure the bridge was long enough. They used buttons, embroidery hoops, clay, bumpy paper and wood scraps to bring their models to life.
Family Art Nights are a great way to involve families in the art their children are making and are usually a part of all Youth in Arts’
Artists in Schools residencies. For more information about art nights and Youth in Arts’ residencies, please contact Program Director Kelsey Rieger at (415) 457-4878 ext 110.
Welcome to the`Til Dawn 2019-20 company.
The new singers attend schools throughout Marin, from Larkspur to Novato and bring a variety of expertise and interests.
“I sing when I wake up and I sing until I go to sleep,” said new member Leah Nemerovski. “I don’t find passion in anything else.”
Current ‘Til Dawn members are already practicing and putting their musical experience to use. Nemerovski plays the trombone, piano, drums, ukelele and enjoys musical theater. She became interested in ‘Til Dawn when she saw them perform at her middle school. She was surprised how easily she connected with other members of the group.
Nemerovski, and Alisa Costello, both 14, attend San Marin High School in Novato. One of the things they enjoy is the closeness of the group.
“It’s like a family,” Costello said.
For the newest members, music runs in the family. Costello’s uncle was an opera singer who performed at Carnegie Hall; Nemerovski is learning how to play the drums from her dad. Will Ferris’s mom is a singer, and Jacquie Kizer has two uncles who are musicians. Emma Orrick’s father is a music producer.
Kizer, 15, goes to Redwood High School. Kizer moved to Marin from New York last year and previously sung in a similar group. Being in the group, she said, provides a safe space and an environment in which to have fun.
“It’s honestly been amazing,” she said.
Orrick, 14, is also at Redwood. and plays the piano and does theater. She was surprised by how quickly the group learns the songs.
“It’s always my highlight of the week,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a chore.”
Ferris, 15, is a sophomore at Drake High School. He didn’t think he’d get into the group, he said, because he couldn’t figure out what to sing. He chose his winning song –”Fly Me To The Moon” – on the day of the audition.
Ferris said he enjoys performing all of the songs, although some are difficult because they are beyond his tenor range. The songs that are performed are chosen by the ensemble.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think it’s really healthy for the group.”
`Til Dawn is an advanced vocal music program that celebrates the value of the arts, encourages positive messages about meaningful social issues and inspires children of all ages. The 15-member ensemble is part of Youth in Arts’ I AM mentorship program and the longest-running, year-round teen a cappella ensemble in the Bay Area. It’s directed by Austin Willacy, who performs as a solo artist and also with his own a cappella group, The House Jacks. While Willacy is on sabbatical this fall, the group has been taught by singer Lilan Kane. a ‘Til Dawn alumnus, and others.
Laurel Dell 5th graders spent a few days happily painting one of San Rafael’s utility boxes as part of the “emPower Utility Art Box” project. If you’re heading to the 101 freeway, you’ll see the box at Second Street and Lincoln Avenue on the right side.
This spring, the students participated in a 12-week residency program that was a unique collaboration between Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. The program featured local architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford and artists working with 4th and 5th grade students teaching design and build concepts. Students created bridges, towers and maps looking at important issues facing San Rafael, such as climate change, affordable housing and access to the Canal community.
“It’s great that the students were so engaged in the work, ” said Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal. “They really wanted people to think seriously about San Rafael’s 2040 plan and what the city needs for the future.”
To paint the utility box, a small group of 5th graders worked with Joyal and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. In selecting the design and color, it was important to consider how different colors make us feel. Students practiced writing their important words big so they would be visible. Despite the heat, the painting was fun! We didn’t blend colors completely to maintain a painterly effect. We added floating houses, trees, birds and clouds. When we were done painting, we added more detail and pattern using paint markers. It is an important visual reminder of what we all need to be thinking about.
The grand unveiling of the six boxes that were painted will be held on June 14 in conjunction with the 2nd Fridays Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. The boxes are located in the city’s downtown corridor and transit center.
The 2019 San Rafael Leadership Institute started the utility box project as a way to bring more art to downtown San Rafael. The institute is a San Rafael Chamber of Commerce program made up of public and private professionals, nonprofit leaders and business officials.
Youth in Arts is excited to announce the opening of our new ART LAB at the YIA Gallery.
Located in the gallery’s store, the ART LAB is open during regular Youth in Arts hours – Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until 8pm during Downtown San Rafael’s 2nd Friday Art Walks. It’s free and open to the public for art-making activities linked to YIA exhibitions.
“In keeping with our mission of providing arts access to all learners, Youth in Arts is opening its doors to the community to explore its creativity,” said Miko Lee, executive director of Youth in Arts. “We’re providing free, hands-on art projects for all ages.”
Children will enjoy kid-sized tables where they can make art and explore materials. Each exhibition will also feature the artwork of one of Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artists. All artwork on view in the space will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Youth in Arts.
Suzanne Joyal’s work is currently featured and coincides with Imagining Friendship the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition of self portraits by kindergarteners and first graders from Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael. The colorful paintings were created during their Fall residency with Youth in Arts. As part of the exhibit, Youth in Arts’ staff have created a kid-sized interactive cardboard world with doors, tunnels and windows for exploring.
Both children and adults are welcome, but we kindly ask that all children be accompanied and supervised by their grownups.
Please come and visit us soon. Just look for our bright red wall!
By YIA Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman
This past winter I had the privilege of working with four fun and friendly San Rafael High School students on creating signage for the Youth in Arts C Street studio and gallery. The objective of the project was to design and create an eye-catching sign that grabs the attention of the public and invites them to come into the Youth in Arts studio to view and even create art.
The students first brainstormed how to visually portray what YIA is about (i.e. accessible art programs revolving around music, performing, and visual arts.) They proposed various ideas and discussed the effectiveness of using certain visuals. The students continued editing their ideas further until they had collaborated a harmonious design and composition.
Not having much experience using paints, the students spent some time familiarizing themselves with basic painting techniques before applying paint to the final surface. We decided to paint the sign’s design on a canvas using acrylic paints and then have the image digitally reproduced with the Youth in Arts logo printed directly onto a sandwich board sign to be placed outside the YIA studio.
The final design of the sign (prior to the digital reproduction) was comprised of colorful music notes dripping with wet paint, theater masks, a violin with a pencil for a bow, a paint-filled drum being played with paintbrushes, and vibrant piano keys atop a pastel rainbow background. The bold lines and pops of color will definitely grab the attention of the viewers and draw them in to learn more. The art students fully enjoyed learning what it was like to design and paint like artists, wearing their smocks, using traditional painting palettes and techniques, and thoughtfully orchestrating their physical working positions to allow all four artists to work on the same canvas simultaneously.
Youth in Arts is offering free Family Art Night activities to school communities impacted by the recent fires. Family Art Night is an integral part of our school programs—we bring artists, supplies and volunteers to a school site, usually on a weekday evening or possibly a weekend day.
We would like to offer a Family Art Night for free to any impacted school that would value this, whether or not they are already participating in our programs. Schools would be free to supplement arts activities with a potluck or other community sharing activity.
We can provide examples of invitations that partner schools have used to gather families for the event. Each Art Night would include two projects:
Family Flags of Hope
Families and students work together to design and hand paint canvas flags that can be strung together to beautify an area of campus.
Ethiopian Necklace Scrolls or Accordion Books
A take-home project creating a uniquely shaped handmade “book” containing children’s dreams for the future.
Please contact Morgan Schauffler at Youth in Arts to schedule. As we know you are all very busy right now, here is what the school community would need to do to participate:
Youth in Arts will:
Please let us know if this would be helpful. We wish you all the best as your community recovers.
By Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman
Artists at Oak Hill School have explored color in various ways this year. During a recent project, students arranged paint chips in a composition and then applied black ink on or around each rectangle using sticks, brushes or fingertips. The project gave students a chance to experiment with non traditional implements for applying color. They also considered how colors behave differently depending on how they are combined and arranged. The flat, matte surface of the paint chips worked especially well for this project.
Oak Hill serves students with autism and other learning differences. For the final project of the year, artists worked on a collaborative mural using a large canvas tarp. Again, students experimented with different ways of applying paint – double brushes, foam brushes, rollers and a spray bottle. They also explored how painting changes depending on the amount of pressure applied and paint used. Some artists used light brushstrokes that were repeated in a loose pattern; others preferred to apply large areas of saturated color. A spray bottle filled with color allowed artists to wet the paint until it dripped to the ground. The size of the tarp and the freedom to work outside in the sunshine allowed students to paint on a much larger scale. We talked about how painting while standing up feels different from painting while sitting at a desk.
Youth in Arts is grateful to Marin Charitable for helping to support this project.
Mentor Artist Sofie Siegmann reports on her after school Drawing and Sculpture Class this past year at Canal Alliance
The first time our group of after school artists met on a Friday in January, we brainstormed ideas of what we wanted to do. I tried to extract the students’ preferences (definitively no printmaking, but yes, we want to draw a lot). Besides contour drawings, we worked on observational drawings, watercolors, and collage (with newspaper).
The most difficult project was the wire sculpture. As anybody knows who has worked with wire before, it’s hard on your fingers, there is a lot of poking, and wire doesn’t necessarily do what you would like it to – but we all endured for many weeks to first sketch ideas, then build a structure, and finally add details.
We looked at artists such as Ruth Asawa and Alexander Calder to discuss how they manipulated and used wire to express their ideas. We looked at videos of contemporary artists such as Nick Cave, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, and one day I brought in my work as well. While wrapping the toy sculptures with masking tape, I introduced the gigantic and temporary art of Christo.We listened to music as we worked, we got to relax as the weeks went by and build new friendships. We will miss each other! Here some testimonials from the students:
There are only two things utilized in this type of drawing: a pencil and an eraser. I decided to draw a dandelion. I chose this, because it seemed as if it would be simple to create, but as it turned out, it was actually kind of complicated to get the exact details. In my opinion, art is a satisfying activity. I like to spread paint on my hands. –Donna
The black and white pencil project was a kind of difficult project. We had to find an image we liked and draw it with only pencil. We had to add every detail we could that was on the image the we picked. Once we finished, our images looked almost 3 dimensional. To me, art is everything, a cactus, a car, a simple pen, it is all art.–Nayed
The b/w drawing is great, because I like explosions. If I mess up I go back and redo my mistake. It looks like an explosion/hamburger. Art is beautiful.–Alex Bautista
I chose to write about my tree wire sculpture, because I am very proud of how it looks. I really like trees and I liked how I was inspired by my love for trees to make this sculpture. I especially like this tree, because it’s my creation and I can make it symbolize it whatever I want. For example, this is the tree of Dreams and Hope.
Art is really important to me, because it makes me feel free (and stressed) at the same time. I enjoy the feel of the clay or wire touching my hands. I might not be the best artist, but I hope to improve, it’s a way to express myself. –Daneidy
The Amaryllis Watercolor Collage was a unique artwork, because there was a lot of personal freedom. So everyone put their own style to their project. Art makes me relax.–Marina
I chose the amaryllis watercolor collage to write about because it drew my attention. It was a way for me to join different colors and pictures together. It is a representation of life. It shows that sometimes you don’t need the same thing to make something look pretty. You need to blend, match, and mix to see the beauty within it. Maybe that’s why I like art, it gives you a blend of reality and a dream creating this beautiful masterpiece. Art is able to make me see different perspectives, opinions, and open my eyes more to everything I haven’t learned yet. Art is able to make me believe everything is going to be ok.–Naedy
The toy sculpture was really easy and fun to do. You got to choose the toys you wanted to have in your sculpture. Once you decided what you wanted to have you started arranging the toys the way you wanted it to look. Then you put the pieces together with hot glue. You waited. Once everything was dried, (you wrapped the toy sculpture with masking tape and then) you decided the color you wanted then you painted over the sculpture many times. After all of these steps you had this amazing, cool toy sculpture. I express art in a number of ways. The first way I think I would describe art is creative. You can do whatever you want and design anything you want in a way you like. Art can sometimes be stressing, but also very fun. Art is beautiful, fun, cool, and awesome. I enjoyed the weeks I have been doing art and I hope I can take this class again.–Tanya
Every now and then as a teaching artist you find yourself with a really special class. The Harding After-School Playwright Program was an absolute joy to teach. They learned story structure and created original scripts. They learned the basics of directing. They strengthened the acting skills they learned through the in-school program. But the fairy dust that sprinkled over this group was the ensemble they created.
Their team was strong in every sense of the word. They collaborated. They listened to each other. They helped each other through their mistakes. They believed in each other. When these students gave away their original short plays to an audience my heart filled with pride and gratitude. Because a truly amazing class teaches the teacher. These 5th and 6th graders taught me to be a bit more silly. To let go a little bit more of perfection. To support each other unconditionally.
There was one student in the class who needed a little extra support. He didn’t want to perform or write a play, but my goodness could he draw. So, to invite his skills through the process that everyone went through, he created a story-board about UFOs. To say it was incredible would be an understatement. I planned to show his story-board over a projector during the short play festival. But when we got to the school that evening, the projector I reserved was broken. All the other projectors were locked up. I started to feel anxious imagining his disappointment when I broke the news. But I caught myself with an idea. The rest of the ensemble should just act out his story-board on the fly! Would they be willing?
When I asked the class who would be willing to improvise his story on the spot, every single student raised their hand. Every. Single. One.
The last “play” was the improvisation of this student’s script and I grinned with tears in my eyes as every student zoomed on stage as fighter jets, UFOs, and aliens. They had so much fun. The creator of the story beamed with pride at what they created together. That is a true ensemble. It was one of the best moments of my teaching career.
Author Isabel Allende visited with C Street Project at Youth in Arts last week to see visual art created by the students, inspired by her words as part of the Creative San Rafael project, and to talk with the youth. Ms. Allende was so gracious and generous with her time, wit and advice–and all our C Street Project students asked great, insightful questions on topics ranging from how an artist finds inspiration to the experience of writing in a second language.
Students shared their original art work inspired by the quote “Today’s girls are tomorrow’s women–and leaders.” Ms. Allende was kind enough to sign students’ works, which will be on exhibit and available for purchase via silent auction starting June 12 at YIA Gallery at 917 C Street. Join us for our June 12 opening celebration or visit Monday-Friday 10 am to 4 pm through the run of the exhibit.
Youth in Arts C Street Project provides training in writing for performance, acting and visual arts techniques, along with unique opportunities to participate in community engagement and public art projects and site-specific performances. This year, students have been working on a series of murals for the Creative San Rafael project soon to appear as public art banners along Third Street in Downtown San Rafael! Next year will bring more public art and performance opportunities for our newest after school program for teen artists–contact Suzanne Joyal for more information about becoming a C Street Project member.
And check out more great photos below by Peter Rodgers from our visit with Ms. Allende!