Local Elementary Students Show Their Talent at the CRAVE Art Show

By Courtney Daly-Pavone

Art is for everyone. It is deep within our souls and aligned with our spirit. It is as natural as breath- ing. When we create we are happy. Just ask Ashley Bruce Art Teacher at McKinley Elementary School in North Park who explains “Kids are free and creative, and not limited in their thoughts yet so their imagination and their ideas can take them on the most beautiful journeys.”
The 3rd Annual Crave Art Show, held in June this year, displayed student artwork from McKinley Elementary and was a community effort. The old Rebecca’s Coffee Shop in South Park served as the gallery space for their art, along with neighboring businesses. According to Bruce, “The owners of Communal Coffee, The Daily Scoop, South Park Dry Goods Co., and The Book Catapult, agreed to let us hang our student’s art on their fences or in their windows. This was awesome because it created a community feeling and got people from the show wandering into the other shops and giving business to them as well as offering just a great community togetherness sort of vibe. I really think that’s what North Park and South Park are all about and it’s what really makes these two communities so special.” Buona Forchetta Restaurant served complimentary food and refreshments as parents, kids, and the community turned out to celebrate student art!

Why Kids Need Art?

Bruce states art is everywhere, “Everything around us is designed at some point from the street signs on the roads to the furniture you sit on, the houses we live in to the buildings we work in. Even the clothes we wear, the utensils we eat with, the shows we watch, the music we listen to, and the artwork we hang on our walls. Art and design is everywhere we look. So to take the arts away from some of our most creative minds is just a tragedy I believe. Kids make us see in a different way and that is important. These kids need art, the world needs art and the world needs these kids to have art at a young age especially now when things in our world are so difficult.”
McKinley students studied the work of many different artists and movements such as Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring creating beautiful still life, cubist self portraits and pop art, and took to their art instruction with a keen interest according to Ms. Bruce. “I have seen first-hand students who struggle to sit still for more than five minutes in class, sit still for two hours in art class with me.”

Art Is In Great Demand, but In Short Supply at Public Schools I wish we could offer more art classes each year because the kids are always asking for more classes, but currently each class gets 6 art classes per year. We do art once a month for an hour at a time for six months. This year we had 24 classes at the school, so each month we are teaching about 24 classes and around 600 students.

Matteo Cattaneo and Buona Forchetta Helps Fund the Program

The old African proverb “It Takes a Village” rings true as this community came together in a cohesive effort to bring art into the class- room. Art isn’t typically offered in public schools, but Matteo Cattaneo owner of Buona Forchetta brought art instruction to McKinley Elementary according to Bruce. “Three years ago he came to me, as our kids were in the same class, and said, “If I can help start the funding for an art program at McKinley, would you be willing to create and teach it?” And with the approval of the principal, the teachers and the PTC continuing to fund this program through school fundraisers and the generosity of the community we were able to start this program and keep it running for three years now. It has been such a benefit to the school. At the end of the 1st year, the principal told me she had asked the teachers what they wanted to keep and what to change at the school. She said they all said the number one thing they wanted to keep was the art program. They could see it made a difference in these kids. It was such a great complement to let us know we’re doing the right thing. And at that first years art show we both saw the impact that we had made on the lives of the kids and the families and in turn the community. Parents kept coming up to us thanking us for giving their kids this opportunity. And it was from this that Matteo was inspired to create this new non- profit Italian restaurant that will be going in at the corner of 30th St and Juniper in South Park. The money raised here will go back into the local schools to help fund things like the arts, to give these kids more opportunities in life and to help the community. It’s really going to be a big blessing to the community and a thank you to them for supporting Buona Forchetta and making it the amazing establishment it is today. So there was no other place we could have held our CRAVE Art Show this year other than here. This new place of opportunity, that has been created by Matteo and inspired by the stories of the families and teachers and hearts of this program and this community and what really is important in this life, which is giving back and giving an opportunity to help inspire others to achieve their dreams as individuals and as a community. We are all in this together. Why not create something beautiful?”