LAUSD “restores” art education (?) or “something vs. nothing”

Here is a pretty picture to start things off (every blog post needs one)-

nigella in bloom

nigella in bloom

Here, go read the article for yourself and see what you think.  I’d love to hear it.

In the poll section of the article it states “Some kids need more creative approaches to learning.”  Very true.

But I doubt this is the answer.  It is another stopgap measure aimed at doing “something” rather than nothing.

Even Steven McCarthy, the district’s K-12 Arts Coordinator, said “one reason arts integration is at the core of the plan is to safeguard arts education from future cutbacks”.  So there you have it.  It’s not really an effort to “restore” arts education.  It’s an effort to shield it from future cuts in order to salvage  and maintain SOMETHING.  Otherwise, parents that care are going to get pretty rowdy.

“We want to have the same quality offered in every school”, says the LAUSD.  So with that goal in mind, they have hatched this plan.  Images of starving children come to mind.  Better to give them all 30 grains of rice per day than to give some kids 60 grains of rice and others, none (or eat less ourselves and make sure that ALL the children get at least 60 grains of rice). At least most of them won’t die. Of art starvation.  Or will they?

At least the LAUSD can say they did something.  Even if that something was half-baked.

Remember, Penny and I were giving weekly art classes all year long in a 4th grade room at a public elementary school for free and were told there was no longer time for us to come in as they would be devoting our “art time” to preparing for standardized testing. It still pisses me off when I think about it.  I just try not to.

An interesting study regarding soccer titled “Action bias among elite soccer goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks” explores the emotional reactions to action vs. inaction.

Tanabata was yesterday.  I wished for more and better art in public schools.

I almost deleted this blog…but for some reason I haven’t. So far…

Leave a comment

Filed under art education, Uncategorized

let me count the ways…that i love this

if you don’t know of Ruth Asawa, you should.

and her son, Paul.


1 Comment

Filed under art education, artists teaching art, elementary art education, teaching kids art

it’s been a while…

Yes, it has.

I really felt the need to report that today I spent the afternoon with two little girls that go to Cerritos Elementary School.  It is the last day of their spring break and it was a rainy windy day here.  They have spent most of their vacation at the babysitters watching TV and really needed a break.  I couldn’t work in the studio since it was too wet and windy so invited them over for the afternoon.  We had cocoa and read stories, lit the fire for a bit.  Then we decided to paint for a while.  I put out the three primary colors plus black and white on a palette and we learned how to mix green and orange and purple.  We also learned how to darken or shade a color with black.  And how to tint a color with white.

Even I learned something- they told me that black and white mixed together make a color called “jail”.

I think we can all learn something from this.

We need arts education put back into the schools.  And how.  Now.

Meanwhile, the Arts Council of Long Beach is busy planning rock parties, giving awards, and celebrating.


Leave a comment

Filed under art education, elementary art education, LBUSD, Long Beach art, Long Beach Arts Council, teaching kids art

a good read

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

a long hiatus

It’s been a long time hasn’t it? Don’t imagine that my thoughts regarding children and art have ceased to exist. There just doesn’t seem to be many places for them to go these days.
I have found small ways and work at them as I can.

Something told me I needed to put a post here today. I was reminded of something that got me started working in my kids classrooms teaching art way back when they were in elementary school. One of my sons teachers was very autocratic when it came to art making in the classroom. It wasn’t her fault really, she didn’t have any art training and was completely uncomfortable doing it. When I realized that at the end of the day the students couldn’t tell which project was their own, it was then I knew I needed to do something about it. ( at the time I was in the classroom as a general parent volunteer)

The question that I asked myself was, when is it art? The answer was and still is- when there is enough individuality expressed that each student could pick their own project out of the crowd. And that is what I strove for.

As for the teacher, she was relieved when I offered to come into the classroom and do a weekly art lesson.

I just thought it might be important to share that question and answer. That’s all. For now.

Leave a comment

Filed under art education, artists teaching art, shibori girl, teaching kids art

Sadly, this is the end.

Recently, I’ve been taking stock. Refocusing my lens. Since the move to the library I’ve asked myself why I am doing this. If it still meets my criteria. I’ve discovered that it no longer does. It really has no chance of meeting it, so it has to end-at least for me. Penny may continue on-she hasn’t decided. She is going through the docent training at the LB Museum and will make an excellent docent there.

I hate admitting failure (of sorts) but then again I can’t change the world or save it for that matter. If kids are going to get an arts education it really needs to happen in the public schools-IMHO. For lots of reasons aforementioned in this blog -which I won’t bore you with the details now.

It’s not going to happen in Long Beach. Not for a very long time if ever again in my lifetime anyway. That’s OK. I accept it. I move on.

I recently was invited to and attended a meeting of a focus group called Create Long Beach!. We were asked “What do you think is the most pressing issue for arts and culture in Long Beach? What are our assets?”. My thoughts went as follows:

You want to talk about assets? How about the kids in LB? ALL the kids.

The bottom line for me is that kids are going to need creative skills to get by in the future and they are simply not getting it. And by kids I don’t mean just the kids whose parents find it important or can afford to buy them access. ALL kids. That’s why it has to be done in the public schools.
I don’t think any of us will be served by living in a world where people have lost their ability to create solutions because from what I can see, we’re gonna need LOTS of solutions in our future!

I’m not interested in teaching art for the accolades, or to babysit someone’s kids on a Saturday morning. I am interested in building skills over time- teaching problem solving through art. Because that’s what art is (at least to me) – a method of creating by solving problems step by step.

How can we engage the average person on the street and connect them to the “arts community” when they have no experience of it in the first place-nothing on which to base an understanding of it?

It needs to start there. On the streets and in the schools.

Enough of flashy websites, granted artists, neato slogans and taglines. Teach problem solving through the arts and connect it to everyday life. Teach artists how to make a living. Let artists teach art.

Art in Long Beach=

So in closing, I will leave you with what the City of Long Beach so generously installed up in my neck of the city-

a $104,000 Orange Twist

I don’t fault the artist herself. The city just had it’s priorities screwed up in my opinion. Just because you slam a sculpture into a median strip doesn’t mean you care about art. Just what IS the message here?

I will focus on my own work. Honing my skills and connecting with others who are like-minded. Keeping sane…more or less. Thanks to all of you who have so kindly posted here, made donations, and inspired us over the past several years. We thank you.


Filed under art education, artists teaching art, elementary art education, LBUSD, Long Beach art, shibori girl, teaching kids art

Elementary Art at the Dana Branch Library

Our first workshop will be on Saturday January 24 at 10 AM at the Long Beach Dana Branch Library.
Please visit their website for full details.

The library is located at:
3680 Atlantic Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90807
(562) 570-1042



Filed under art education, art lessons, artists teaching art, elementary art education, Long Beach art, shibori girl