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Prescott Valley couple 'Falls for Art,' becomes docents

Prescott Art Docent Iyone Meyer pulls out one of 600 mounted posters in the PAD office in this Tribune file photo. The docents can draw upon the art posters, 1,000 art books and digital presentations when making their presentations to schools and groups.<br>
Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Prescott Art Docent Iyone Meyer pulls out one of 600 mounted posters in the PAD office in this Tribune file photo. The docents can draw upon the art posters, 1,000 art books and digital presentations when making their presentations to schools and groups.<br> Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Nancy and Dick Shugrue fell for art about a year ago, and after nine months of training, are now bona fide Prescott Art Docents.

The Prescott Valley residents are part of the 2009 graduates who are hosting the Art Docents' "Fall for Art" Invitational at 10 a.m., Monday, Aug. 24, at the Prescott Fine Arts Association.

The organization is made up of 100 percent volunteers who provide outreach art programs and experiences to youth and adults. Potential members do not have to be artists or even know much about art to join.

That was the case with Nancy Shugrue, although she and her husband often would visit art museums on their vacations. She had no background in art history or art appreciation to fully understand the artists or the exhibits.

"That's one reason why it's such fun. It sort of fills in some of those empty spots. When we'd go to museums, I didn't quite get the significance of some things. I wanted to know more," Nancy said.

The couple moved to Prescott Valley more than two years ago from Omaha, Neb., and immediately jumped into activities - Nancy with the League of Women Voters, and Dick with an art history course at Yavapai College. Dick retired from a career in practicing and teaching law, and Nancy from a career as a speech pathologist and school psychologist.

Dick decided to look into the Art Docents and Nancy tagged along with no intention of joining.

"I was just intrigued, and decided to sign up, too," she said after attending her first meeting. "It was scary to put that much time into something, but we made a lot of new friendships. It became valuable on a personal level as well as a volunteer opportunity. It's really enriched out lives."

New members take part in nine months of training in art history and appreciation, including weekly Monday speakers programs. Nancy said her group twice traveled to the Phoenix Art Museum, with whom the Prescott Art Docents are affiliated, and they visited several local museums and art studios.

New members research and collect information on a subject that interests them, then they present it before the docents.

Nancy said she found it "a little intimidating when you're not used to doing speeches in front of a large group."

Someone suggested she do hers on dogs in art, since that's what she talks a lot about with family members. She thought the idea was a little "goofy," but it turned out to be well received by the veteran docents. Nancy said the students at Abia Judd, where she will present art masterpieces to two third-grade classrooms on a monthly basis, would enjoy it, too.

Dick, on the other hand, put together a presentation on the architecture of courthouses, as the design of buildings is a form of art.

The new docents can choose from a variety of programs that include a Masterpiece series where docents bring selected reproductions into the classroom and discuss the artists and elements of art, such as color, balance, prospective.

The Youth and Adult Speakers Bureau involves digital and slide presentations on various art topics. Art in June at the Prescott Library provides hands-on art activities to young children. Some docents help in the art room at schools, or provide art experiences for at-risk teens in the community.

The organization began in Prescott in 1971 to "share the love of art with children and adults of our community and to promote the art museum experience." During the 2008-2009 school year, docents volunteered more than 14,000 service hours to the community.

About 110 members currently are involved in taking art to 10,000 children and adults in the quad-cities. Docent Roseann Lukaszewski said, "With school budget cuts, the Docents believe their mission to serve the children of our community is even more vital."

Those interested may learn more by attending the Invitational at 10 a.m. on Aug. 24 at the PFAA, 208 N. Marina Street, Prescott. To RSVP or for more information, please call Linda at 776-7784.

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