Budding artists honored at Gilbert Park Elementary

More than simply enjoying the artwork on display, discover why the adults who volunteer with this program are so passionate about it …

A parent looks at many of the nearly two dozen entries in the Gilbert Park “Reflections” art competition.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the third year in a row, Gilbert Park Elementary School, in the David Douglas School District, participated in the National PTA “Reflections” program. This art teaching activity, started in 1969, encourages students to explore the arts, and recognizes their efforts.

“I went to art school, and also had a lot of art and music when I was growing up,” said the volunteer coordinator, Heidi-Marie Wilson.

Gilbert Park student Neila Johnson shows off her 2nd Place Reflections Award to program coordinator Heidi-Marie Wilson. Here, her entry is directly above Johnson’s head.

It seems to her that there’s less art in public schools these days, Wilson told East Portland News at the January 10 exhibition and reception.

“Fortunately, the David Douglas District is one of the few districts that have not cut their arts programs. A topic in almost all of our PTA meetings is the importance of music, physical education, and art programs in our schools.”

Regional Arts & Culture Council “Right Brain Initiative” artists – Allie Maki Maya (left), and Kendra Meyer Yao – judge entries. Betsy Anderson photos

She volunteers as the Reflections coordinator, Wilson said, “Because, as a parent of Gilbert Park students, I want our children to have the opportunity to be exposed to art, create it themselves, and be recognized for their efforts. Early exposure to the arts can change a student’s focus, going forward in their lives.”

This year, 23 students submitted artwork for judging and the exhibition. “This year’s theme is ‘The Magic of a Moment’.”

Instructor and fine artist Dolores Wood judges entries in this year’s Gilbert Park Reflections program. Ernest Wood photo

One of the judges this year was Dolores Wood, a noted Powellhurst-Gilbert fine artist. Also from the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s “Right Brain Initiative” were artists Allie Maki Maya and Kendra Meyer Yao.

At the reception, Dolores Wood, who also teaches art, remarked, “It’s been so interesting, seeing how these young people interpret the ‘magic of a moment’. I had to really think about one of them – about a star ‘going nova’ – quite a deep concept, when one reflects on it.”

Budding artists Kai Dyson, Aidan Dyson, McKenzie Mills and Hayden Shaffer are recognized for their talent.

Neila Johnson stands with 1st Place Reflections winner in her category, Kira Day-Stewart. Her winning artwork is shown as an inset.

The students were very enthusiastic about participating again this year, Wilson observed. “Part of it, I think, is that kids enjoying seeing their artwork up in the cafeteria, and coming to the Art Gallery reception.”

From here, the Gilbert Park winners will go on to a District competition, and they may progress to the Oregon PTA level, and to the finals at the national level.

The photographer of the judging, Betsy Anderson, also helps to serve up a spaghetti dinner – part of the evening’s celebration.

Not all of the kids who entered the competition got an award. But, because so many adults care so passionately about their art education, it’s clear that every last one of the students is a winner.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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