JVES art show features artwork and students portraying the masters
Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh attended the student art show at Jacks Valley Elementary School, held Tuesday evening by “star” light.
Although these three well-known artists are long gone from this earthly world, their art lives on in the teachings of art teacher K.C. Brennan, and their stories were told by 17 of her students, each dressed as one of the three artists.
Strolling through the crowd of an estimated 300 parents, students and teachers, the famous artists told their story to any passerby who would listen.
“I am Pablo Picasso, one of the most famous artists of all time, known for my cubism,” said Sean Peck said as the diminutive Spanish artist. “I was a child prodigy … and lived from 1881 to 1973.”
Peck is a student of 6th grade teacher Vicky Templeton.
n Vivacious Victorian. At just under 5 feet, Brennan was a vivacious presence at Tuesday’s art show. Her floor-length 1870s Victorian dress made it look as though she was floating across the gym floor among milling art afficionados.
The artwork and techniques of Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh have been studied by JVES students from kindergarten through 6th grade during the first semester of this year. Each class studied the artists in one-hour weekly lessons, incorporating Brennan’s teachings into the appropriate age-level activities.
In her 3rd year teaching for the Douglas County School District, Brennan said the quality of work she’s seen from her students has been very good.
“Theirs is high creativity,” she said. They jump right in to whatever I’m trying to teach.”
JVES reading specialist Sue Worthen said Brennan’s teaching has been outstanding from the start.
“She’s not an ordinary art teacher, she’s unbelievable,” Worthen said. “She’s not just an art teacher, because she combines the art with so many other aspects of teaching. The kids just love her.”
Tuesday’s art show spotlighted visual art, drama and dance. In addition to the strolling artists, 52 students roamed as hosts and hostesses, explaining the school’s art program to show-goers. There were also 15 volunteer students acting as tour guides and 25 dancers dressed as bees and dragonflies for a free-form performance.
First grade teacher Cheryl Winter said Brennan is always positive, creative and never complains.
“I told her tonight that the watercolors she had the kids do turned out looking like postcards, they were so good,” Winters said. “We’re very lucky to have her here at Jacks Valley.”
n District art policy. Brennan is implementing the DCSD’s revised art/music program for elementary schools, created four years ago. In order to add visual art to the curriculum, each elementary school has art one semester and music the next.
In January, Brennan will move her art cart to Pinon Hills Elementary School to finish out the school year there, while veteran music teacher Jackie Maye will trade places, coming to JVES from PHES to teach music for the rest of the school year.
n Extensive background. Brennan, 41, is a Chicago native and met artist Pablo Picasso there when she was 10, shaking his hand when he visited the city during the time a large untitled steel sculpture of his was installed downtown.
“He was a small man, even shorter than my father, who was 5- foot-6-inches tall,” she said. “But it was memorable meeting him.”
Brennan used the shape of that steel sculpture in art lessons for students at JVES, where, in some cases, students used paper to replicate the sculpture.
After receiving her art degree from Northern Illinois University, Brennan studied at the Chicago Art Institute. She is certified to teach all grades and has taught high school for much of her 20 years of teaching art, but said her elementary school students are inspiring.
“They always elate me so with their excitement for art,” she said. “They give me so much energy.”
The parent/teacher group at JVES was instrumental in pulling the art show off, Brennan said.
“PIE was outstanding,” she said. “They wanted this show and they helped with the food and the bird cookies and provided volunteers.”
The hallways at Jacks Valley Elementary School were full of more than 3,000 pieces of art, said Principal Pam Gilmartin.
“This is the culmination of the semester of art, and we had dancing bumblebees and strolling artists and a wonderful show,” she said.
Inspired by a trip to Alaska, Brennan said next year she plans to teach the Arctic and Native American art to the thousand or so students at both JVES and PHES.
“I get so excited when we travel,” she said. “We went through Oregon to get to Alaska and the green there was wonderful. Maybe I’ll have to figure out a way to use that sometime.”
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