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Friday, June 1, 2012


Three Studios coming together during previous events

For the next two days I'll be posting here LIVE while I participate in ART ALL STATE XXV, to give the event from the perspective of one of the Artist-Mentors.  This is my eighth year in a row doing the event and I have to say of all the things I do all year long this is one of my favorites.  It gives High School students the chance to work together in large groups creating group art pieces, installations or gallery style exhibitions, or to make it clearer than I can possibly hope to do-- from the official website:

Launched in 1987 through an off-hand suggestion of a retired art teacher, Art All-State brings together some of the most talented juniors from across the state for an intensive two-day art experience. The students, competitively selected, collaborate with artist/mentors to create group installations inspired by the Museum's collections. Through gallery and studio experiences AAS challenges and inspires these participants to think creatively about themselves and the role that art can play in life after high school. Eight studio groups are each lead by two professional artists, who help facilitate the students in the creative process. The artists, who come from a variety of different art disciplines, also act as mentors for the student participants.

The artists are chosen from a competitive basis as well-- I'm not sure how many apply but there are only 16 openings.   Artists are compensated with a small stipend but I doubt any of us are doing this for the money.

Once chosen there is one meeting of the group back in April where we get together and discuss logistics of using the vast collection of the Museum with our groups-- and artists pairs are introduced (most of us know each other by now-- although there is often rookie artists brought in as well) and each pair formulates the materials they'll be using with their students as well as choosing the art from the collection that they would like their group to focus on.

This year I'm teamed with Rich Gombar who is a well known painter from Vermont and an easygoing guy-- which is right up my alley.  The three years that painter Tom Grady and I worked together you could have spread sand on the floor and played nonstop Dave Matthews and it couldn't have gotten any more laid back, which is definitely my preference.

I've been extremely lucky with my pairings over these eight years-- I've yet to be teamed with anyone who has been a problem, although I do hear through the grapevine on occasion that I can steam roll people with more B-Type personalities.  I try to be sensitive to that, but indecision is a pet-peeve of mind so often if someone needs to review dozens of options I'm not on board with that-- we have essentially twelve working hours to get this thing put together.

Okay, doesn't sound quite so laid back now does it? ;)

As an artist-mentor our role is to guide but not teach.  That's an obstacle I've seen many of my peers struggle to overcome.  Having done this so many times I can recognize when a studio is the vision of the artist rather than the students-- and that is a tough nut to crack.  Knowing when to hold back your opinions.  Knowing how to lead them from a bad decision but having them make the right choices on their own becomes the real challenge.

Working with 18 High School Juniors, all with some degree of artistic background, all with varying degrees of social skills, all with experience forming cliques becomes another challenge.  All of which can be addressed during the Ice-Breaker session.

As an artist mentor I'm bringing music, speakers and a coffee maker.    There will be about fifteen things I'll forget that I should have brought but the spontaneity is part of the fun.