Editor's note: The following 1994 article was published on August 19, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of Thomas Daives, New Canaan, CT. If you have questions or comments regarding the article please contact Mr. Daives by writing to the author at 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, CT, 06480.
Sharing Your Paintings
"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs"
by Thomas Davies
HOW IT WORKS
The school would select (based upon its calendar) a day and an evening where all the pictures are brought to the school for an exhibition.
The students would be involved in placement of "their picture". The students report (or a shortened version) would be mounted along side the pictures, with the students name and credit for the work done.
Perhaps the school itself would be brought into viewing the exhibition during the day.
Key to the plan is parental involvement. The evening exhibition would envision "a night at the school", for an art exhibition and a presentation by the students involved in the project. They might be called to give a minute or two dissertation on the. piece, why they found it interesting.
This evening could also have music (background; school band etc.) as part of the program.
If the school approached the project with appropriate publicity within the community, outside visitors could be encouraged to attend the evening show.
Is there a fund raising opportunity? Can evening participants be charged a fee? Parents or only visitors? Can parents be asked for donations through mailings home, newsletters etc.? These are details that can be discussed.
The problem mentioned at the end of the proposal was ultimately solved by scheduling a free period shortly after the students were assigned "their picture" and I delivered all of the pictures to the school. They were lined up in various areas of the library. The participating students came in at their discretion, examined the paintings, compared them to their own personal color print and many discussed their picture with me. It was a great experience to see their enthusiasm over the "real painting" that they had begun researching.
Well, you have now seen the actual outline of the project and proposal put forward to the school. "Selling it" was interesting. It was favorably, even in some quarters, enthusiastically received. It was important for me to identify the "supporters" and make sure they understood how it would work, how it would benefit their students. A great deal of discussion went on within the English and Art Departments and with the Administration I'm sure. Lot's of details were questioned, "were they doable" and frequent discussions with me took place.
In a venture of this sort, If you are lucky, a few talented people emerge who provide great support. In my case one particular mother who was a professional photographer and who had access to film, developing facilities etc. came forth to do all the photography:, slides, prints, press releases, etc. Another parent had access to printing color post cards for mailings. I obtained the client list of a number of local galleries in order to mail invitation cards for the school's exhibition night.
Having survived the "Proposal and Discussion- phase and received the "go ahead-, dates and other issues were locked. I was also "gaining points at home for involvement-. In fad, my wife was beginning to question just how big this was becoming. She expressed concern. I was now on the offensive, but let's get back to the project.
I felt strongly that the students participating in the project deserved an exciting introduction to American Art and to set up the selection process for their personal painting with some enthusiasm. A fully scripted slide presentation was developed. In it a brief history of American Art and all the artists, periods and schools involved in the project were presented. Slides of major paintings in museums to illustrate certain points were interspersed with the pictures in the project along with brief descriptions and interesting anecdotes about the specific artists. I presented this slide show to key members of the school to give them their first look at the specific paintings involved. Up until this point, it was all done on faith. Ultimately, the teacher heading the Art Department made this presentation to the participating students. From this point onwards, the project moved very quickly.
I next did a major review of my own art reference library, selected some 130 books, periodicals, catalogues, brochures etc. to comprise the research resource the students would use. I developed an index system, typed it all up and turned It over to the school. The reference material was placed In a special section in the library reserved for its' use.
Having basically completed my part to get the program in place, I helped somewhat in the school's publicity effort and mailing out a very handsome postcard announcing the exhibition event at the school. Of course for my wife and I the real thrill was the exhibition evening. The participating students, families, friends of the school, and many others responding to the publicity attended the exhibition. It was a great event. The paintings were beautifully hung and all of the participating students' research papers were displayed along side the paintings. For most of. the evening, the students in the program stood beside "their" painting. The level of knowledge, enthusiasm, and genuine pride exhibited as these students talked openly, and intelligently to the adults, and other students, was very thrilling. I felt good about it. How else to describe it?
In addition to the "spotlight and glitz", a deeper reward was realized when KLHT presented me with a folder containing all the reports prepared by the participating students. This is where I genuinely began to appreciate the ability to impact a young persons thinking and perceptions about things. This was the real joy of the event. Many quiet, contemplative evenings have been spent reading through these essays.
Before you read excerpts from the observations and thoughts of a pretty representative group of sixteen and seventeen year. old high school students, let me explain why this article was written in the first place. If you have read this far, it is likely you also have an abiding interest in Art, or children in school, or are a teacher, or perhaps (if we can use the word openly) are an art dealer. Whatever your circumstances, it may be within your grasp to initiate some form of project or program using what you have knowledge of, interest in, or possess; wonderful works of art. There is something remarkably magnetic about the results of dedicated efforts and the creative process, and artists or "creators" have been producing these works throughout all of history. For too many people, and particularly for hyperactive teenagers with raging hormones, there's never the time to stop, look, learn and appreciate. I discovered that with a bn of effort, a lot of help from other parents and a receptive school administration YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. This article may give you a road map, a procedure to follow. Why not do it?
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