When you visit the art classroom at Dana Gray School, the first thing you notice is a smiling Art Resource person, Norma Trejo, who clearly enjoys her work. Norma helps provide a weekly art experience for all the students at this school. As a mother of a four-year old and an avid soccer player who plays on a county traveling team, Norma has a bubbly energy that translates into enthusiasm and support for the students
The challenge of preparing art experiences for more than four hundred students each week can be a daunting task. Each project needs to fit into a class period of 40 – 45 minutes and stay within a very modest budget. Community support from donations and volunteers has been essential.
Offering weekly art experiences to all the students is being made possible by a generous donation to Flockworks, a local non-profit that has supported building community through the arts for more than ten years and the support of Safe Passage Family Resource Center. The funds support time and work needed to provide the art activities to the students. “This project has been nothing but positive for the school," said Rick Kale, Principal for Dana Gray Elementary. "The art projects create a generosity of spirit that is palpable. The students are excited and engaged during their Art Studio time and it carries over into their classrooms."
Students have recently explored making pop-up cards using the principles of origami (folding paper) and kirigami (cutting paper). They are building on this three-dimensional experience in their latest project by creating a two-dimensional base utilizing a weaving of paper and building three-dimensional structures by folding, twisting, fringing, spiraling, and curling paper strips. We see lots of focus, fun, and enthusiasm for this project. This is one of the great rewards of offering art each week to the students at Dana Gray School. “The art program is such a great gift to our school,” offered a teacher.
Over four hundred students at Dana Gray School, grades third through fifth, had the opportunity to go to ‘The Studio’- their art own classroom, this past month as a result of Flockworks and Safe Passage Family Resource Centers effort to return art to the curriculum.
Due to budget cuts, the local school district was no longer able to fund an art teacher, but Flockworks, a local arts organization, secured a grant to hire Norma Trejo to facilitate art projects each day on campus. Ms. Trejo has been assisted by Anne Harvey from Safe Passage Family Resource Center and Joanna Wigginton, a retired teacher and Flockworks Board member.
The gracious and welcoming teachers at Dana Gray School accompanied their students to class and have been wonderfully supportive in ensuring the success of this new program. The first four weeks have flown by in a colorful study of warm, cool, and monochromatic color.
One of the biggest rewards we experience daily is the spontaneous expression from students who proclaim, “I love art!” Their focused engagement and enthusiasm is proof alone that returning arts to the classroom has benefits.
The first week students participated in creating a mural by printing on Tyvek, a durable synthetic fiber, using real sunflowers as their ’stamps’. A special thanks to HOPE garden at Dana Gray and Fortunate Farms for donating the sunflowers. Although it was a lot to fit into the first class, the murals were readied for display at the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta sponsored by the Latino Coalition.
We encourage everyone to view the sunflowers paintings that are on display in the hallways of Dana Gray. The array of colors that were created from a palette that originally consisted of only red and yellow paint is inspiring. The centers of the sun flowers are created with real seeds. You will also see the long strips of cool colors and leaves. Students did rubbings with leaves from different trees and plants to produce this abundant flora. As part of the assignment, they could also chose to add arachnids and arthropods to their foliage.
Later in the month was an opportunity to have an individual piece become part of the whole. Students received a piece from a puzzle quilt with an even number correlating to a warm color palette and an odd numbered piece for cool colors. These quilts adorn the hallways of Dana Gray and are worth seeing.
We continued with a study of color and paint and each student was given a palette with white and black paint. Then either red or blue was chosen as the monochromatic color to explore. White as a tint and black as a shade opportunity to create a wide variety of color that filed geometric shapes designed by the young artists. This type of exercise is foundational in helping artists understand the use of color and light in creating.
“Painting is my favorite thing to do. It makes me feel so relaxed,” said one fifth grade student. “I feel like I’m at home, but I’m in school,” said another.
All together it is a successful project thus far empowering the school and most importantly students with tangible skills to tap their creativity and contribute beauty and artistic expression in our community!
Franklin Street Mural – “Matsya and the Great Deluge” by Bojh Parker
What: Unveiling of the next Alleyway Art Project mural– Matsya and the Great Deluge with live music and snacks
Who: Flockworks, Artist Bojh Parker, Community Foundation of Mendocino County, Alan and Laura Limbird – local sponsors
When: Friday, Oct 5 (5:30pm – 7pm)
Where: Alleyway off of 345 North Franklin Street (next to Visit Mendocino building)
Join us for a First Friday celebration of the Alleyway Art Project’s (AAP) most recent mural installation, on North Franklin Street. The AAP is a Flockworks’ project bringing public art to downtown Fort Bragg. The Alleyway Art Project matches local artists with local organizations or businesses to create art installations. QR codes (links readable by mobile phones) are included to a website with information about each installation, the artist, co-sponsors, the inspiration, and any history or fun facts that relate to the design.
“Matsya and the Great Deluge” was designed by local artist, Bohj Parker and was sponsored by Alan Limbird, DDS of Fort Bragg Center for Laser and Cosmetic Dentistry. Guests will get a sneak peek at other murals proposed in the art corridor and there will be music, food and drink.
(Fort Bragg, CA) Local arts and community nonprofit, Flockworks, has responded to the recent budget cuts by Fort Bragg Unified School District that defunded art programs by raising $25,000 to return art programs to all the students at Dana Gray Elementary in Fort Bragg.
“Art is a vital part of learning,” said Executive Director Janet Self. “Learning through art fosters its own special hands-on skills, creates a positive learning experience and offers an important conceptual framework that supports other academic disciplines.”
This current effort to return arts to Dana Gray Elementary was spearheaded by Flockworks Board member and Community Artist, Joanna Wigginton and Safe Passage, Family Resource Center’s Latino Family Advocate, Anne Harvey. Flockworks secured start-up funding to hire a Resource Artist who will work 25 hours a week with the students on various art projects. The funds were the result of generous donors and a grant secured by Safe Passage. Principal Kale and Superintendent Walker are fully on board for this exciting new pilot project. Dana Gray teachers are excited to participate as well as provide feedback and ideas for the art curriculum so it complements the academic work.
“The gifts that made this pilot project possible reflects the abundance we find when we work together as a community,” said Joanna.
Flockworks has a 12-year track record of working with children and youth on creative projects inside and outside the classroom. In June and July of this year Joanna and Anne led weekday art projects to compliment the summer program at the Redwood Elementary School in Fort Bragg for children from pre-K through 6th grade. The projects were designed to support the curriculum themes including pets, insects and moving vehicles.
“We will be fundraising to secure support from donors and grants to help sustain and expand this pilot program,” said Joanna. “We want to ensure we have more art for these kids.”
(Albion, CA) On the Mendocino coast, a new Little Free Library (LFL) was installed at The Ledford House in Albion as part of the Flockworks “Little Free Libraries for All” project and in partnership with the owners, Lisa and Tony Greer. Little Free Libraries are community book sharing sites that inspire a love of reading, spark creativity and build community through a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange.
The library was assembled by Community Artist, Joanna Wigginton, and finished by Flockworks Board member, Erica Harrold. The inspiration for the artwork on the structure came from learning about the life of Lisa Greer’s 12-year old grand-niece, Coco, who was killed in a car accident. Coco's love of books and altruistic nature were an inspiration to everyone she met. “I was touched by the beauty of that young soul and how much she gave in her short time,” said Harrold. “She volunteered with homeless programs, animal shelters and did environmental restoration work in her community. I wanted to honor her spirit in some way.” You can learn more about Coco through the family foundation- www.livelikecoco.org
"A Little Free Library connects people," said Joanna. "Whether they know the connection exists or not, people are sharing a book when they take one and when they leave one. This was the perfect project for Flockworks because we’re all about creating connection through creativity."
Joanna conceived of this project as a way to develop carpentry skills for youth and promote literacy. The project is planning to work with local schools to facilitate the construction of hundreds of LFL structures.
This mural by Flockworks wraps the reception area, waiting room and hallway for a new facility of the Mendocino Coast Clinic. The center will provide a range of special support for families and children and is planned to open this summer. A related creative outreach project with MCC and others is under development with focus on "Community Well Being".
Since 2007, Flockworks has been a vital part of arts on the Mendocino Coast, with summer our biggest season. And, as the saying goes, the only real constant is change.
In the past six months Art@OddFellows wrapped up after 10 years and 135 exhibits. We lost our "home" and anchor community project - working with thousands of artists, children and youth as we hosted 14,000 visitors each year to experience an amazing richness and diversity of local arts. Through Art@Oddfellows, we made connections, raised funds, and fostered creativity. It was a hard loss, but mostly I feel truly grateful for having had those ten years to do this work.
And despite this change, our mission to "Connect our Community through Creativity" is flourishing! I hope you'll enjoy these brief notes about some of what we've been up to, post Art@OddFellows!
(L) "The Rhododendron" mural in downtown Fort Bragg; (R) Lia with her husband, Josh accepting the "Beautification Award" from the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce.
Recently, Flockworks Community Artist Lia Wilson, and the Alleyway Arts project, received the "Beautification Award" by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce. The inaugural project, "The Rhododendron", created by artist @fericdecay (on Instagram) was sponsored by The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and The Community Foundation of Mendocino County. In the past week, the newest mural, "Matsya and the Deluge" by artist Bojh Parker, was approved by the Fort Bragg Planning Commission.
(L) Worry dolls created by the students and (R) Board member and Community Artist, Joanna Wigginton working on a Little Free Library.
Community Bridges, our partnership with the Latino Coalition, Safe Passages and others, brought art projects all yearlong to 350 elementary school students at Fort Bragg's Dana Grey School. Community Artist and Board member, Joanna Wiggington, also provided summer projects at Redwood School for young migrant students and has plans for even more in the 2018-19 school year to address the slashing of support for art in Schools. Joanna is also spearheading the Little Free Libraries for All projects. The first set of "libraries" were started by youth at the Alternative Education Campus in Fort Bragg, while the 3rd year of our SAIL Youth offered art to these 50 + students.
Over 500 children & youth were part of special large scale projects thru the Children's Banner Project. Our Art & Science intern program began as part of our Ocean Upwelling partnership with Noyo Center for Marine Science. We delighted visitors to Mendocino's annual 4th of July Parade, 2018 EarthDay, World Oceans Day, Whale Festival, Art & Science Fair, and more! And Noyo Printworks continues as a creative home for many local print makers.
Fourth of July float that won "Most Creative" in Mendocino's parade.
This has been a challenging year of change as a leader of Flockworks; however, being named Arts Champion of the Year! by the Arts Council of Mendocino and County Board of Supervisors was a real honor that brought the past decade to a sweet close. Now my excitement is in looking ahead as we shape a new decade of creative community with our energetic and capable Board of Directors, led by Erica Harrold. I hope you'll continue to follow Flockworks through our newsletter, our NEW website, our Facebook Page and Instagram feed! And, finally, I ask you to join us with your time and financial investment! Your support is more important than ever.
As I head off to a week-long Music Camp (yes, stand-up bass and singing are creative pursuits in addition to my love of colors!) I send you best wishes for a wonderful and creative summer!
My warm regards,
Executive Director &
Flockworks Community Artist
For this year's annual award dinner, the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center awarded the Alleyway Art Project with the "Beautification/Preservation Award".
It was a sweet evening of old friends and new friends. We're feeling so much gratitude to live in this generous and vibrant community on the coast. <3
Appreciation to The Community Foundation of Mendocino County for believing in this project and non-profit partner, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens for working with us on the inaugural mural.
More art to come!!