By Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman
Recently I worked with a team of San Rafael High School students as part of Italian Street Painting Marin. During a five-day workshop, artists learned to design, grid and create a chalk painting. The festival draws artists from all over the world, and this year’s theme –The Wonders of Space and Time – gave us a lot to think about.
“Space is the void of warmth and an engulfing darkness that is both terrifying and mystical at once,” wrote one of the YIA artists. “When I imagine space, I think of planets, stars and black holes. I think of the mysticality of space and the wonders it offers.”
While many artists painted important scientific figures, such as Stephen Hawking, our team created a montage of images. They called the piece, “Beautiful Chaos.” The painting showed space in the center. Around the edges, vines and roots of trees took over parts of earth polluted with items such as an old car, a discarded can and cigarette butts. A big challenge was decided what colors to use – and working in the heat! Students were flexible and generous with each other, making changes when necessary and helping each other along the way.
The C Street Project met on June 21-23 at Youth In Arts to brainstorm, practice, design and render a design concept to paint in 12 x 14 feet on June 24 and 25 during the Italian Street Painting Marin Festival in downtown San Rafael. Mentor Artist Katy Bernheim and four students from San Rafael High School, Terra Linda High school, San Marin High School and Berkeley High School started with an overview and practice of charcoal and pastel rendering and shading techniques.
Since the Festival’s theme was The Summer of Love, celebrating 50 years since the iconic summer of 1967, we looked at images of artwork and art movements happening at that time. We noticed the bright colors, the flattened styles, and how poster making and other reproduction techniques influenced the artwork. We talked about what the artists of the 60s were responding to in their time, especially the anti-Vietnam War activism and the Civil Rights Movement, and how it was a time of change and upheaval, not unlike what is going on in the world today.
We wondered what would the Summer of Love 2017 look like? What sorts of things are the student artists thinking about, sensitive to, upset about? What would they protest or celebrate? Pride immediately came up, (it was Pride weekend, too), Black Lives Matter, and women’s rights. They talked about memes as common themes that most kids knew about. We discussed how iconography can be used to get a message across, and came up with the rainbow and Pride flag, and the Black Panthers’ (and others’) protest fist.
The final piece included a protest fist, an “I love you” hand, a “be cool” hand, a peace sign and a thumbs up sign, along with the Pride rainbow. The artists added the San Francisco skyline, representing where we live, a strong Pride movement, and where the summer of Love began. Lastly, they included a couple of memes: Dark Kermit, a symbol of minor revolt as the id personified, and Babadook, the adopted symbol of the LGBTQ community.
It was a truly collaborative piece. On Saturday morning we outlined the design in the gridded lines, then colored in, shaded, and blended the images with chalk. The artists learned the most effective way to apply chalk, to blend it and add details.
Our design was very well received, and the student artists were thrilled to work in public and to hear the feedback from onlookers. It was hot, it was frustrating at times, it was sometimes hard to control the chalk, and it was a challenge to negotiate how to influence the other artists’ techniques or approaches, but the student artists soldiered on. Ultimately they were very proud and very happy with the outcome of their work.
This month, Youth in Arts C Street Project artists Christopher Do, Ayame Keane-Lee, Marikit Mayeno and Joselyn De Leon have been working with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman to create an original comic book for Litquake San Rafael, as well as a giant-sized “walkable” illustrated story in our YIA Gallery in Downtown San Rafael.
On Saturday, October 8, C Street Project artists hand-colored dozens of copies of their finished comic book Floating with purple and yellow colors that are important elements of their story. They delivered the books to Blue Moon Comics, where Litquake visitors could pick up a free copy and follow a trail of footprints to YIA Gallery. At the gallery, visitors were able to illustrate their own ending to the story and participate in a workshop with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman on comic book drawing and design techniques.
C Street Project artists also used a press to create original printed images, both to decorate the outsides of the comic book, and as bookmarks for YIA Gallery visitors to take home with them.
On Sunday, the young artists worked with Youth in Arts Mentor Artists to hand-enlarge their book pages to panels that now fill YIA Gallery. They hand-colored each panel and drew their own “bubble worlds” (another story element) which will be strategically hung from the ceiling.
On each “bubble world,” one side of the bubble shows a world the artist wants to see (i.e. a healthy natural world or engaging schooling for everyone) and the other side shows an aspect of the world they want to change (i.e. factories belching pollution or girls excluded from school).
Come visit C Street Project’s “Walkable Comics” exhibit free to the public at YIA Gallery through November 18, Monday through Friday 11 am to 4 pm.
We’ll also be open free to the public on Friday, October 14 and Friday, October 11 from 5-8 pm for Art Walk Downtown. If you’d like to bring your school or youth group on a private tour with a guided hands-on art activity, contact Jen Daly at firstname.lastname@example.org (reservations required).
Or see the show when you join us on Saturday, November 5 to “Paint, Print, Cut & Create” at our art-making studio fundraiser ($30 Teens & Adults and $10 Children–info and tickets at youthinarts.ticketleap.com)
Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman is an award-winning cartoonist and writer who draws for print and online publications. She is the author and illustrator of the mini-comic, “The Old Cat and the Sea.” She reports below on her work at Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito.
Teens interested in learning to create their own original comics with Cathy this October should click HERE to check out our C Street Project “Walkable Comics” workshop this October!
This past Spring, Harding Elementary School students learned to write and illustrate their own comics. Comics are part of a rich tradition of storytelling, and Harding’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade students were excited to learn about this time honored art form.
Some students wrote short mysteries, starring protagonists that ranged from a talking donut to a n’er-do-well pencil. Others chose familiar storylines–friends on a basketball court, at a park or at school. Some drew their families. One 4th grade girl wrote about the adventures of leukocytes in the human body. Along the way they learned about facial expressions, body positions and how to create drama and action from panel to panel.
One of the biggest challenges was deciding which parts of a story to tell visually and which parts to tell with words. Students learned about speech bubbles, thought bubbles, action words and more. It was exciting to see students learn to draw 3-D objects like couches and chairs while creating images of home or school.
At the end of the session, students learned about lettering and cover art. Using a few colors, they created eye-catching covers.
A “C Street Project” team of local teen artists worked with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman this past weekend to create “Glittering Stones as Sunset,” a beautiful collaborative soft pastel street painting for this year’s Italian Street Painting Marin festival.
The young artists worked for three days ahead of the Festival with Cathy, considering what the Festival theme “Bella Roma” meant to them. Elements they chose were the Colosseum, a marble bust of Flora Goddess of Youth, the famed wolf from the fable of Romulus and Remus, cobblestone streets and a glowing sunset.
They also explored soft pastel techniques, gridding and then finally painting the street. The team was also very fortunate to learn from street painting Maestre Genna Panzarella, who visited courtesy of Italian Street Painting Marin, to share her own techniques and experiences with the younger artists.
C Street Project students said they were “proud” to have their work presented so publicly. One student commented, “It felt great knowing people were admiring my work.”
Our next C Street Project workshop “Walkable Comics” will meet Thursday evenings, September 1-October 13 with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Teens will create a “Walkable Comic Book” that will be part of the Bay Area’s “Litquake” celebration.
Register online here for “Walkable Comics” online or come into 617 C Street, Monday-Friday 11-4 to register in person.
Youth in Arts does not turn away students based on an inability to pay. Complete our scholarship application here if you need a scholarship to participate in a C Street Project workshop.
See more C Street Project street painting photos below.
Youth in Arts silent auction of work in our gallery by youth artists will close at 8 pm at the end of 2nd Fridays Art Walk Downtown on Friday, August 14. The auction is running concurrently with our exhibit Creative San Rafael, comprised of the original works for public art banners going up around the Downtown San Rafael area this Spring and Summer.
Works available via auction include 6 paintings by Youth in Arts C Street Project teen students that are the originals for reproductions displayed along 3rd Street Downtown. The works were inspired by an Isabel Allende quote “Today’s girls are tomorrow’s women—and leaders” and each piece is signed personally by Ms. Allende who visited with C Street Project students this Spring.
Also available for bidding are four large pieces created collaboratively by groups of students for the Creative San Rafael project. These are the originals for banners that can be found around the Downtown area.
To submit a bid on any of the above works, come by Youth in Arts any Monday-Friday from 10-4 until August 14 or join us from 5-8 pm during Art Walk for the official auction close. You may also contact us at 415-457-4878 during M-F business hours or on August 14 from 5-8 pm to inquire and bid via phone.
Two works by professional artists from the exhibit are also available for sale in the current exhibit (but are not included in the auction). If you have questions, feel free to call us at 415-457-4878 or email email@example.com.
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!