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Building a love of art to last a lifetime

“It’s really satisfying as an art teacher to see these young people getting recognition"
Art on display was done by students across SVVSD

St. Vrain Valley School District showcased works of art from students in 55 different schools at its annual show, at the exhibition hall at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. 

St. Vrain’s Unframed Art Show is scheduled for April 16-21, with a special “artist’s night” open house on Thursday. The open house was an opportunity for young creators to share their works with the public and talk about the processes of creating individual pieces.

Janay Bird, fine arts coordinator for SVVSD, helped direct the show, with nearly every school in the district represented. 

“We’ve been holding an annual art show for at least 50 years,” Bird said.

While every child loves to show off their art to friends and family, the district show is an opportunity to connect kids with a larger audience. 

“There is so much support for music,” Bird said, “and this is one way to extend the visual arts to the Longmont community. It’s an opportunity to instill in these young people a love of art that will last a lifetime.”

Sara Grippa, art teacher at Timberline K-8, said her school displayed around 150 pieces from students, with Grippa choosing three or four works from each unit and class. 

“It’s really satisfying as an art teacher to see these young people getting recognition, and you can see progress at every level,” Grippa said.

The art show is organized with the younger students up front and the high school students toward the back of the exhibition hall. Bird explained that this setup is to allow attendees to walk through the hall and see how students in the district are creating works as they grow in age and abilities.

Reid Henderson, a second grader at Longmont Estates Elementary, showed his ceramic work called “Bathtub Man.” 

“I made him so he’s in the tub and he’s holding candy. I liked the idea of him having red hair, and I couldn’t find any tan paint for his skin so I made him yellow, instead,” he said.

Henderson demonstrated how he shaped the clay and glued the man’s feet to the tub as the final step in his creation. He observed details like the shaving cream he painted on the back of the man’s head and invited onlookers to feel the smoothness of the paint.

“I was inspired by hot baths and showers because I love them,” Henderson said.

Henderson’s art teacher Laura Wonnacott said it is hard work selecting from the hundreds of works children produce. “It takes me hours,” she said.

Across the hall, Bella Neiberger had several works on display. Neiberger is an 11th grader at Frederick High School and has loved art since she was in elementary school. Among her pieces selected for the show was a large acrylic painting of a seahorse, which took her about two months to create. 

“I also have a ceramic piece on display here, but I really enjoy working with graphite or charcoal the most,” she said.

Teachers were also invited to Thursday’s artist’s night, giving them an opportunity to connect with attendees, as well. 

“We are so proud of our teachers,” Bird said. “They are really helping to bring art into the community while developing the talents of these young people.”