Originally Published: January 6, 2014 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Dozens of budding young artists gathered at the 'Tis Art Center & Gallery on Saturday to kick off an exhibit showcasing their colorful creations.
More than 60 pieces of art all created by youngsters in the center's STEPS Children's Art School lined the walls along the upper balcony of the center at 105 S. Cortez St. The exhibit is scheduled to run through Jan. 13.
The program, which began in 2011, offers students ages 4-12 the opportunity to participate in free art lessons. Students enrolled in the sessions meet with a volunteer teacher once a week, for a total of seven weeks. The classes include instruction, all of the art supplies and an art show at the end of the session - all at no cost to students and parents.
The classes range from basic drawing, textures, and shapes, up to painting.
"We start with the very beginning, basic line class," art teacher Melody McConaughy said. "Then they take the next level and move up to another instructor. That's why the program is called 'steps' - they keep moving up to different levels."
"This way they can have a little bit more control and know the basic principals before they start with the paint," she added.
Artists Jonah DeShaw, 12, and Julian DeShaw, 9, are just two of the students whose work is featured in the exhibit.
"I really like drawing. I prefer drawing because that's the best thing I do," Jonah DeShaw said, pointing to his framed black-and-white drawing of the Colosseum in Rome.
With budget cuts causing more and more public schools to slash their art and music programs, the free art lessons at 'Tis Art help fill the gap left behind.
"Art stimulates the mind academically," marketing and program director Patti Ortiz said. "It's been proven that kids do better if they have the arts integrated. They may go on to become engineers, but that art background helps. Plus, they learn about history and culture."
In addition to showcasing students' work, the pieces featured in the exhibit can be purchased for $15. The money goes to the students, Ortiz said.
The art center was recently gifted with a building to house their expanding art programs. The new 'Tis Annex at 235 N. Marina is undergoing remodeling, Ortiz said. Once completed, the new location will offer artists of all ages and skill sets a place to work.
"There will be three studios for working artists, a ceramics studio, two classroom spaces and a reception area in the front," Ortiz said.
To make a donation to the art program or for more information on enrolling a child in art classes, contact the 'Tis Art Center & Gallery at 928-775-0223, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.tisartgallery.com/art-classes/.