Concord artists help students
prepare for May showcase

Wren Avenue first-graders with their mural project, Seaweed in the Diamond Sky, inspired by Henri Matisse. Wren Avenue Elementary is MDUSD’s first Visual and Performing Arts magnet school. The program is designed to strengthen community, creativity, and confidence through the core curriculum, the arts, and technology. Student art will be showcased next month at the Raquel Amaral gallery on Todos Santos Plaza. (Photo courtesy MDUSD)

The Concord Art Association (CAA) is collaborating with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s newly formed Education Foundation (MDEDF) to provide teaching assistance and develop special events.

As a privately funded nonprofit, the Education Foundation’s vision is to provide a quality education for every child, no matter where they live in the school district.

“We aim to fund all STEAM enrichment – science, technology, engineering, art and math,” says Cherise Khaund, MDEDF president. “After surveying the schools about their needs for art programs in particular, we learned that our teachers would like the expertise of visiting artists. CAA will assist us with registering more local artists with the district to volunteer in the classes to help both teachers and students learn more about art styles and techniques, as well as showcasing their work.”

CAA, a nonprofit celebrating its 55th year supporting local artists, is teaming with MDEDF at the Wren Avenue Elementary School of the Arts.

“At Wren, art is more than a means of learning. It’s a form of self-expression and a way of discovering the world,” says principal Aline Lee. “Art provides students with the means to explore new paths creatively, investigate new concepts critically, and express themselves freely and confidently.”

CAA president Sandi Sherwood has been working with Lee to develop a Young Artists Show next month in downtown Concord. “We’re thrilled to be working with Wren to set up a display of original artwork from 40+ of their K-5 students.” Sherwood says. “This is one of CAA’s many new outreach programs to bring more art to the community. We are passionate about ‘Art for every child’ and look forward to supporting this new collaboration.”

Wren kindergarten teacher Eric Vandetta is also excited about the joint venture. “Sandi has been an incredible, energetic source of support,” he says. “Her commitment and ability to get things done are admirable. I think the best part of our new partnership with CAA is joining the community of artists and art lovers here who understand the importance of arts education as much as we do.”

Vandetta says the gallery show will highlight a variety of work that students have completed in classrooms and the school’s art studio.

“Painting is the students’ favorite kind of art,” he adds. “They’re learning how to use a variety of mediums and brush strokes. They’re expressing themselves very individually. Their insight and imagination are amazing.”

Vandetta noted that the students are proud to be in the show. “I think they feel the significance of having their work displayed and recognized in public.”

The public is invited to the Young Artists reception, 1-5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Raquel Amaral Gallery, 1856 Colfax St., Concord.

Lisa Fulmer is a mixed media artist and a small business marketing consultant. She serves on the board of directors for the Concord Art Association and the B8 Theater Company.