Art museum, teachers to sketch out differences
The Wyly Community Art Center will host a meeting for valley educators to sound off on the Aspen Art Museum’s plan to eliminate the Valley Kids Art Show.Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, director and chief curator at the Aspen Art Museum, instigated the meeting, said Roxanne Bank, public relations and marketing manager at the museum. Jacobson is out of town and could not be reached for comment.The Wednesday meeting will be at the Wyly Art Center for all valley educators but is not open to the public because of space limitations. The art museum chose to meet in Basalt for its central location. Wyly, once located in Woody Creek, officially opened its Basalt center Sept. 10.”Our new director is interested in having a dialogue with valley educators to get ideas about how to bring art to young people in the valley and how to get young children to the art museum and get more art to the schools and the community in new and different ways,” Bank said.New and different ways seems to be the sticking point for many valley parents and educators who expressed dismay that the Aspen Art Museum will no longer host the Valley Kids show, a program that is more than 25 years old.Jacobson is replacing Valley Kids with a Young Curators program that would not showcase art from students younger than 13.Deborah Jones, founder and director of the Wyly Community Art Center, said she sees a double-edged sword. “Change is inevitable,” she said. “People have a hard time with change. The Aspen Art Museum has an incredibly dynamic director, and shifting and changing is a great thing. “Yet you have to honor what’s occurred in the past. You can create a new, innovative program and honor what came before – you gotta do that dance,” she said. “Where else can you have a little student have a puppet on the wall in a professional, real-life museum?”Jones said she thinks it’s exciting that art educators are “up in arms about the Valley Kids show because they’re so passionate about it” but she thinks it’s important to focus on solving the problem rather than playing the blame game.Basalt Elementary School art teacher Lois Alvarez plans on attending the meeting. “I’m disappointed about [the museum’s] decision to drop the show, but I’m going to remain positive,” she said. “The Valley Kids Art Show is so special because it ties not just our community together, it brings communities together all the way from Aspen to Parachute. It’s a great self-esteem-builder for children to see their art hanging and for their parents to see it.”Jones, who taught art at Aspen Community School for 20 years, participated in the Valley Kids show from the start. “It was an exceptional program. As a director of a nonprofit art center, I understand the museum has to stay attuned to that mission.”The Wyly Community Art Center hosted its first children’s art show in May, featuring young artists from Basalt Elementary and Middle schools. The art teachers had parents install the exhibit and brought all their classes through the 10-day show.”It was a great success,” Jones said. “The sharing of artwork is very important; we all like to see our work up on the wall.”Alvarez’s students participated in the Wyly Community Art Center show in May, and she’s planning another one next year.”It was a fantastic show, but that was for Basalt. The Aspen Art Museum is a huge space and I don’t think we can ever find space like that again.”Putting on a show like the Valley Kids Art Show takes a lot of work, Alvarez said, but she sees solutions.”Art teachers and parents can help out. I just wouldn’t want to do without either the Wyly art show or the Valley Kids show.”Whatever the outcome of the upcoming meeting, Jones hopes for the continuation of art for the community’s children as well as adults.”The making of art, no matter what the age is of the creator, is essential to human development,” she said. “To build a better culture and a better world, you must have art.”
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