Once again Athens Arts is reminding the community that art matters — to everyone — and that we should be “pART of it.” In the new exhibit, “Pre-school Painters and Potters” viewers will have the delightful opportunity to see some vivid art by our youngest Montgomery County residents coupled with some bright and colorful children’s book illustrations by artist, Anne Roscher Parks. This show is now up in the Fishero Gallery until May 30.
In early April, as she watched her tiny artists wash and put their brushes away, gifted artist-teacher, Stacy Bogan realized what has actually happened here even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. When Bogan guided youngsters in 2019, no one could have imagined the circumstances under which this highly imaginative class would take place this year — with masks and distancing and hand-washing after hand-washing. But it happened and everyone is celebrating.
In 2019, Athens Arts was able to give both elders and pre-schoolers the chance to work with professional artists to create work based on instruction. This year the pandemic prevented teaching art to seniors in care facilities. Since our littlest children are able to safely gather, Discovery Pre-School once again became the site for some lively sessions of discovering art. The class was taught following CDC guidelines, a continuous challenge with three-, four- and five-year-olds, but their valiant teacher reports how well they wore their masks and kept distance.
This community outreach arts program was made possible by grants from the Indiana Arts Commission, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Bogan’s talents are broad and deep. She has done mural art, is a sketch artist and she is well known throughout the region as a prize-winning watercolorist of buildings and scenes. Despite her wide and deep career, Bogan stays tied to her roots: a love of classic painters and their work from throughout the centuries, and to her core belief in bringing art to young people. She brought these passions together when she designed “Pre-School Painters and Potters.”
This year Bogan selected two classical artists to introduce to inspire the children’s work. Imagine little 3-5-year-olds learning about and seeing Rene Magritte’s clean, clear realistic-looking paintings. Familiar images like a train or a human eye do surprising things on Magritte’s canvases. An entirely realistic train with steam pouring out of its stack comes bursting out of — a fireplace. And while every child recognizes and can name a human eye — they don’t expect the entire sky to be reflected in that eye. In this topsy-turvy year that the kids have been through with the rest of us, such images produce giggles and shocked expressions as little people realize that they too can use their imaginations to create “what if?” images from things they see every day.
Later the kids learned about 20th century artist Andy Worhol and his imaginative way of painting what he saw, from soup cans to famous faces. Then their teacher helped them see how
Worhol and his imaginative way of painting what he saw, from soup cans to famous faces. Then their teacher helped them see how Worhol used repetition patterns to create some of his most famous work.
One day Bogan brought to class a set of bowls for the children to paint using their own repetitive patterns.
The tiny artists’ bowls will find another performance space after the Athens Arts show when Bogan creates her next in an ongoing series called “At the Table.” Bogan is planning a Magritte-inspired installation piece that will feature the children’s bowls. In 2017 Bogan’s first “At the Table’ installation entitled “Black and White” was featured in exhibitions at Athens Arts and in a Lafayette gallery.
When visitors come to see “Pre-School Painters and Potters,” they will have some professional work in the world of children’s arts to look upon too. Stepping into the breach to enhance and complement the kids’ work in the Fishero Gallery is Anne Roscher Parks, a noted and award-winning Indiana painter and children’s book illustrator.
She grew up in Crawfordsville and this “return home” brings our community the chance to see some of her recent work (some of it in cooperation with local children’s author Julie Ludwig Bergfors) as a children’s book illustrator.
Like Bogan, Parks is committed to encouraging and teaching art to people of all ages. As she notes, “Art is a gift of healing as well as of artistic craft.”
Her wonderful drawings of children — tousle-headed, sitting up in bed or looking out the window at the school bus on a snowy day — invite us right into a child’s view of the world. She notes that she likes to keep “the illustrations loose and colorful as if you were inside the minds of the children, seeing situations through their eyes. The illustrations are all painted by hand in gouache, no digital media was used in their creation.”
The community is invited to a special closing reception at 5 p.m. April 30. Bogan and Parks will be there along with the pre-school artists and their families. As a special feature, everyone at the reception will be invited to create their own edible piece of art inspired by the paintings of Wayne Thiebaud.