By H. Haveman
Any kindergartner can tell you that their best artwork hangs on the refrigerator. It’s displayed in this prominent location so that each member of the family can view it several times each day. More than mere construction paper held up by magnets, a child’s pride, confidence and self-worth are supported on the smooth surface. Eventually, as time passes, the exhibit changes from colorful drawings to spelling tests and report cards. But it starts with art.
Without a large kitchen appliance on which to hang his students’ work, Juan de Oñate art teacher Steve Heil has turned to the school and Gallup communities in order to create a public art display. Fitz Sargent, an architect by training and former art teacher, loved the idea immediately and has donated a portion of his own property along Second Street, just south of Aztec Ave., for the project, which will be permanent and highly visible for drivers and pedestrians alike. Sargent will also be building the three showcases out of steel and glass. Each 4 x 6 x 1.5-ft. case will be free standing and lit in the evenings. Though all the logistics have yet to be determined, the design will be simple so the emphasis will be on the students’ work.
Heil has gained the interest and support of every art teacher in the district’s 19 elementary schools. They will rotate on a month-to-month schedule throughout the school year in order to show examples of their students’ 2- and 3-dimensional artwork. When school is not in session, the display will be used for other youth art programs. Each new show will be opened at Arts Crawl on the second Saturday of each month. Parents and kids will be encouraged to attend and then continue on to enjoy our downtown Arts Crawl events. At this point, the project is focused on elementary art, but there’s no reason why the displays can’t be used to exhibit a broader section of student art in the future.
With a $1500 donation from the BID and donations made possible by Gallup Journey, the project has raised more than half of the funds needed to begin building this spring. In-kind donations are welcome; specifically help is needed with steel, concrete, glass, landscaping and electrical. All supporting organizations will be suitably credited on the showcases.
The arts are an important thing to support, especially here where they have profound cultural ties. A public display of elementary artwork will instill a healthy sense of pride in our children, and hopefully, in the Gallup community at large.
For more information on donating to this project, please contact Steve Heil at (505) 721-9371 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.