Wednesday, April 15, 2009

REVIEW: It's Elementary Art at City Center, Montpelier

By Theodore Hoppe

The Montpelier City Center has quite a variety of budding young artists on display, with fine examples of Chinese Brush Stroke, paintings of wildlife, Civil War heroes, and much more. It's Elementary Art is the art work of students from grades K-6 in the Washington Central Supervisory Union. These elementary schools include Doty, Berlin, Rumney, Calais, and East Montpelier.

The art the students have created is, in a word, amazing. Brilliant yellow sunflowers painted on a blue-tone background in the style of Vincent Van Gogh are done by first and second graders. Space and Vanishing Points are a collection of drawings by 2nd and 3rd graders that explore shape, texture, line, color, patterns and perspective. There are portraits by 4th graders that display an expressive range of emotion.

There are two collaborative efforts by a total of forty 5th and 6th graders that employ a technique called Masterpieces -Together. The concept is for students to recreate a portion of a famous painting and then piece them together like a patchwork quilt. The results are bright, colorful, and ambitious likenesses of Paul Klee's abstract "Castle and Sun” and Henri Rousseau's "Exotic Landscape."

For many of Vermont's (and indeed America's) young people, public schools serve as the major provider of arts instruction. It is with the patient dedication of teachers like Lynn Spencer, Martha Fitch, Jennifer Campbell, and Heidi Marie Holmes-Heiss, that young minds are guided to an understanding of the arts. This show is about drawing, technique, art history, but it is also about understanding and appreciating beauty, and daring to create it. Last, and perhaps most importantly, it is a demonstration of need to continue funding the arts in our public schools even in difficult times.

It's Elementary Art will be at the City Center until May 2, 2009, so stop in with several of your favorite young people and explore all there is to see. Perhaps you will find the next Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh, or Henri Rousseau there.