Author: Joanne Petitto

TEACH AND BE TAUGHT

Written by Alice G. Foreman, NW Art Committee Member:

Some might wonder at the title of this blog entry. For those currently serving on the Junior League of Seattle’s NW Art Committee, or JLS members who have served on the Committee and been privileged to go into one of the Seattle Public Schools (SPS), the meaning will be very clear. It won’t even be an “aha” moment; they will just smile and agree.

I want to provide a little explanation for those readers who have not enjoyed the experience of in-room teaching, being a docent, or being a member of the NW Art Committee (something I hope all Seattle Leaguer’s do at some point during their JLS career), but enough Committee endorsement, just read on and you will understand.

Before you can teach you must be taught. You must learn about art and our artists.  Being a member of the NW Art committee, you will learn under the watchful eyes of the Committee Chair, Vice Chairs and Committee Advisors. The keys and overarching links in the learning process of the NW Art Committee are two-fold:

  • Halinka Wodzicki, JLS’s art educator and the Museum Education Manager of the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery. The Henry is a fine repository of Northwest Art, a jewel of a show place for fine art as well as place to educate the public about art.
  • Committee continuity and knowledge sharing.

First of all, let us start with Halinka, a teaching star. She is knowledgeable and approachable.  She is the person who will give you the tools, knowledge and understanding of art you will need to be a successful docent yourself. Her lesson plans and insight tell you exactly how to use these tools and share them with students and teachers alike. So, if you choose to go into the schools to teach/docent, you will be taught.

Secondly, NW Art committee continuity and the sharing of knowledge and experiences is ever-present and an immeasurable factor in the success of bringing art into the schools.

When you get into the classroom, there are moments and experiences where your students teach you. They find a color you had not seen in an art piece. They see and share information about the placement of lines and shapes. You will find their excitement contagious. They will let you know what they see, and they are eager to try on your explanations and compare their thinking with yours.

The ultimate success is the knowledge that you have shared information that will help expand students’ horizons in all areas of their learning. It was always a great thrill for my docent partner, Minda Brusse, and I to receive a fine report card as well as appreciation from our school’s principal for the lessons we shared.

What did the students I taught and the experience of being a docent teach me? That a student’s eyes and minds are open to the creative wonder of art and its importance in our world, and that the experience of letting them interact with art and seeing their imaginations at work is a joy.

Henry Art Gallery Lecture

Written by Anbrit Long, NW Art Chair:

The Junior League of Seattle and Henry Art Gallery partnered in March to offer an exciting lecture and training session that focused on the rich history of Northwest Art and artists.  The evening featured presentations by Northwest Art expert and gallery owner John Braseth, and Henry Art Gallery and Junior League docent Tricia Tiano.

Shelly Lambert, John Braseth and Ashley Baerwaldt-President Elect

Event attendees were invited into the Henry Art Gallery’s Reed Gallery Collections Study Center to view 25 works by Northwest artists that John Braseth had pulled for discussion including Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Paul Horiuchi, and others from the Henry’s Collection.  John provided a wealth of knowledge, analysis and anecdotes to the audience on the Pacific Northwest-based artists.  Junior League members were able to compare and contrast the works, complementing the Junior League of Seattle’s collection.  All attendees were able to look at works from the Gallery’s collection up close, and many of the works were “loose” (unframed and/or unmatted) which added to this unique and exciting experience.

Tricia Tiano, the longest running active docent at both the Henry Art Gallery and Junior League of Seattle, led attendees through an inquiry-based docented discussion of the Flashback exhibit in the Henry’s north galleries, comparing works in the Henry’s collection to work in the Junior League’s collection.  Flashback looked at the visual art of 1960’s and 1970’s with a selection of paintings by Northwest artists and work by University of Washington faculty who were breaking with tradition. Tiano discussed University of Washington faculty painters Spencer Moseley and Alden Mason, who were creating Op Art with large colorful canvases, in contrast to the works and palette of other Northwest painters such as Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, and William Cumming.

Silvia Wolfe, Executive Director of the Henry Art Gallery, gave opening remarks and noted the importance of fostering dialogue about the rich history of art in the Northwest.  The Henry has a long-standing tradition of collaborating with the public, community groups, and other art institutions.  She also thanked Halinka Wodzicki, award-winning educator, for her excellent work in art education for both the Henry Art Gallery and the Junior League of Seattle.

This evening was a unique opportunity for the JLS to share in the academic riches of one of the nation’s most innovative and esteemed university art galleries.  Over half of the 100 attendees hailed from outside the Junior League of Seattle, making the evening a true partnership.

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The Henry Art Gallery is committed to taking risks, and fostering dialogue and debate.   The exhibits and programs are designed to stimulate research and teaching at the University of Washington, as well as provide a creative wellspring for artists, students, and educators. To learn more about the Henry Art Gallery and their public offerings, please click here.

The Junior League of Seattle Northwest Art Project develops critical thinking through art. For 51 years, the program has been bringing original works of art by Northwest artists to local classrooms—reaching over 11,000 children and 400 educators last year alone with its inquiry-based critical thinking methods. During its early years, the program was hosted and administered in conjunction with the Henry Art Gallery.  To learn more about the NW Art program, please click here.  To inquire about the NW Art program visiting your school, please write: nwart@jrleagueseattle.org

John Braseth is owner and of Woodside/ Braseth Gallery, the oldest and one of the most respected galleries in the Pacific Northwest.  Since 1961, the Woodside/ Braseth Gallery has been instrumental in fostering an appreciation of Northwest Art by lending and donating works locally and abroad, as well as encouraging our collectors and patron to loan their treasures of Northwest art to local, national, and international exhibits and major museums.  Open to the public, the Gallery regularly mounts exhibitions of work by major figures in Northwest art, drawn from their rich and extensive holdings of art works.  To learn more about the Woodside/ Braseth Gallery, click here.

Tricia Tiano
John Braseth in the Reed Collection.
Attendees listen to gallery talk.

Mother’s Day Baskets – Call for Donations

The Mother’s Day Baskets Provisional project team is seeking donations of small toiletries to include in baskets for women in local shelters this Mother’s Day. Please drop off items to the bin at the Junior League of Seattle Office between February 14th and April 27th.

We request the following sample-sized items:

  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Small combs
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss
  • Soap or body wash
  • Perfume, eye cream, etc.

Hotel toiletries, magazine samples and like items are wonderful additions. Our goal is to gather over 800 baskets, so every item you can donate is appreciated.

Annual Sustainer Luncheon, February 1, 2012, Seattle Yacht Club

Join your fellow Junior League Sustainers at our Annual Sustainer Luncheon! This year we are excited to feature Dr. Christina Orr-Cahall, CEO and Director of the EMP and JLS Sustaining member as our guest speaker. She will talk about “Museums: Through a Director’s Looking Glass”, exploring the changing dynamics in museums and their role in the community through the perspective of a 30-year veteran museum director. It includes the sharing of powerful, often funny and even occasionally sinister experiences.

Dr. Christina Orr-Cahall

Dr. Christina Orr-Cahall began as CEO and Director of the EMP in July 2009. From 1990—2009 she was the CEO and Director of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL. Previously she was Director and President, Corcoran Gallery and College of Art; Chief Curator of Art, The Oakland Museum and Special Assistant to the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Faculty Member, Art History and Director of University Gallery, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Come and see your JLS friends! Plus there will be great raffle prizes…such as two lucky winners will get shellac pedicures at Spa Scotta, tickets for Pacific Northwest Ballet and more!

Annual Sustainer Luncheon, February 1, 2012
Seattle Yacht Club
11:00 Social, 12:00 Luncheon
$45 per person
RSVP: https://www.jrleagueseattle.org/?nd=m_event_detail&key=2068 or call (206) 324-0432

ALSO: The Premier Event – A Vintage Affair committee needs our help to stock the Sustainer Wine Cellar! They are looking for bottles with a $25 or higher value. With our support the past two years, the Wine Cellar has been a huge success with auction attendees. A representative from A Vintage Affair will be at our Sustainer Luncheon to collect our generous donations.

Please email Premier Event Chair, Caitlin Echelbarger at caitlin.echelbarger@gmail.com with any questions. They are also still accepting procurements, please email Procurement Vice Chair, Kim Jones, at kimberly.jones8383@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!

We look forward to seeing you at the luncheon!

History of the Northwest Art Project

HISTORY OF THE NORTHWEST ART PROJECT

Dee Dickinson and Tricia Tiano

 This is the story of how and why 250,000 children learned to understand and appreciate the visual arts through the Northwest Art Project, the longest lasting project of the Junior League of Seattle.

In the late fifties Sputnik went up and the boom came down on public education, bringing in intense focus on improving math and science skills but also, in the process, cutting budgets in the arts. In fact it seems that since then whenever public school budgets are cut, the arts are the first to go. Yet in every culture since the beginning of human history, the arts have been essential parts of daily life, decorating cave walls and early tools and utensils. The arts have been the high point of every civilization. Furthermore, they have always been essential components of the finest educational systems, not just because they have cultural value, but also because they are languages that all people speak.

Fifty years ago the Junior League’s Community Arts Committee was concerned about the lack of arts education in public schools and created the Northwest Art Project to restore some of what was being lost. School halls were often dingy and on the walls were only faded reproductions here and there. Dee Dickinson, chair of the committee at that time, was aware that the Northwest was an unusually rich source of visual art by local artists who were already gaining worldwide acclaim. She was also painfully aware that there were many children who had never seen an original work of art and had never visited an art museum. There was as, a result, a real void in their education that might be filled by learning to understand and appreciate artistry and have opportunities to do creative work of their own through the guidance of trained docents.

Dee first approached Dr. Richard Fuller, who was at that time the director of the Seattle Art Museum, then located in Volunteer Park. He had never had children of his own, and when he heard about the proposed project he was not pleased with the idea of bringing original works of art into the schools. He also did not appreciate what the project might do to enhance children’s understanding and appreciation of the visual arts, inspiration, and imagination, as well as leading to their becoming future museum-goers.

She next approached Kenneth Callahan, who was wildly enthusiastic about the proposed project. He said, “Come with me.” They went upstairs to a guest room, and he pulled out from under the bed two magnificent paintings that he said he had been saving for a major museum collection. He said, “Take your pick. Let the children come close to see it well. Let them touch it and feel it and smell it. If it gets dirty bring it back to me and I’ll clean it off with a raw potato. Encourage them to look at it carefully and tell what they think it means!!”  That visit launched the project, and Callahan’s magnificent painting, “Crystalline World,” led it off.

A small jury was created composed of professional art experts including Junior League member Virginia Wright, a well-known collector of art. They counseled the committee on which artists to add and they next approached Guy Anderson, Paul Horiuchi, George Tsutakawa, James Washington Jr., Spencer Moseley, and Glen Alps. Later, through a Junior League grant, paintings by Mark Tobey and Morris Graves were added, and a painting by Helmi Juvonen was acquired by sending art materials to the hospital where she was a patient.

The project was planned to be taken into the schools by Junior League docents who were trained in how to make their visits interactive, not just informational, and a number of different trainers, artists, and visits to studios have been involved over the years.  As a result the docents have helped children to see with fresh eyes, looking for hidden meanings, appreciating the colors and designs, leaning about the use of different media, responding with their own views of the artworks, and being inspired to create some works of their own. The visits often become multisensory experiences as children imagine walking into a painting, hearing, feeling, or smelling what it is like inside. At times music is used to blend with the rhythms of a painting, or children are asked to make sounds like those of the animals pictured, or to give a work of art a title of their own, or write a short story or poem in response to what they see. The works of art are left at the schools for several weeks so that further exploration and inspiration may occur.

Initially, the League docents received their training at the Seattle Art Museum, and later at the Henry Art Gallery on the University of Washington campus where they learned about art principles and studied art history. The artworks in the League’s collection were kept at the Henry Gallery when they were not in use in the schools. At that time, the docents themselves would take some of the artworks to the different schools in their own cars. As the collection grew, however, crates were built and storage and transportation were arranged. Later on the trainings and storage moved to the League office in Madison Park. As the collection continued to expand, more space and controlled temperature in the environment were required, so the artworks were transferred to Artech which now cares for them when they are not traveling.

In 1994, a relationship began with the Bellevue Arts Museum, and during that time the Junior League docents offered training on how to present the artworks interactively to teachers and PTA parents on the Eastside. This connection has extended the reach of the project. Also, since 2001, a professional art education consultant, Halinka Wodzicki, has helped enlarge the scope of the docent training. She has written extended learning activity packets that are given to the teachers to help them connect the children’s art experiences to their curriculums.

During the last 50 years, over 500 Junior League docents have been part of the project that has reached over 250,000 children in around 600 schools in King County. In 2004, the Northwest Art Project was displayed at Harborview Medical Center; however, in 2010, the entire collection, which now includes 75 works of art, was displayed for the first time in a museum setting at the Bellevue Arts Museum.

Docents have reported numerous rewarding results of their visits to the schools. During one visit, an autistic child who had never before spoken in class talked eagerly about a painting he had fallen in love with and after that he continued to participate more frequently in class discussions. One student was fascinated by Jack Chevalier’s mixed-media piece, “Lighthouse,” and said she would like to have it for her own because it would help her with her math. In another class one of the students was so inspired that he continued working on his own painting and missed lunch in the process. In an English as a Second Language class, a docent asked the children what they thought the people were anticipating in Joe Max Emminger’s “Two People Waiting.” One student answered “Freedom” which led to a rich discussion of expectations and experiences one has in coming to a new country. Children are so often stimulated that they are still anxious to give their interpretations of the art when the period ends. Children’s eager participation, thoughtful interpretations, artworks, poems, stories, dances, and dramatizations continue to surprise not only the docents but also the children’s own teachers.

Now in its 51st year, the Junior League’s Northwest Art Project includes not only paintings and drawings but also collages, sculptures, glass art, and carvings. It continues to meet the needs that motivated its inception. Public schools still face budget cuts in the arts, and there are often fewer opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills, applied learning, and seeing projects through from beginning to end. These skills are in great demand today as any kind of employment and even daily living require more creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Recent studies (as reported in the media such as the July17, 2010 issue of Newsweek) have shown that creativity has been declining in our country at the same time as creative thinking is being emphasized in the schools and is rising in the workplaces of other countries. Even the U.S. Patent Office is concerned.

Another current need in education, as diversity increases in school populations, is for a greater variety of teaching and learning styles that teachers often learn through observing the docents’ visits. Many teachers are able to integrate what they have observed into other parts of the curriculum as well, resulting in their students’ greater understanding and ability to apply what they have learned.  The Northwest Art Project continues to seek ways to fill some of today’s needs as well as those in the years ahead to help in the development of “whole” human beings, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

November 2010, the Junior League of Seattle proudly debuted its newest publication, The Art of Discovery. This book is colorful, engaging and instructive whose purpose is to educate, stimulate and inspire young minds through vivid images of art created by significant artists represented in the Junior League of Seattle’s Northwest Art Project and provides the volunteer-based community program with an on-going fundraiser in which profits from the sale of the book will be returned to the community through funding of the Northwest Art Project.