2013-03-08 / Front Page

Young artist earns museum showcase

Consolidated student’s work selected for exhibit
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Brian Fetzner, a first-grade student was chosen to showcase his work as part of the Youth Art Month exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art. Audrey Grumbling, the art teacher who nominated him to be part of the exhibit, said his artwork’s composition was “very creative and intriguing.” (Courtesy photo) Brian Fetzner, a first-grade student was chosen to showcase his work as part of the Youth Art Month exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art. Audrey Grumbling, the art teacher who nominated him to be part of the exhibit, said his artwork’s composition was “very creative and intriguing.” (Courtesy photo) The work of some of Maine’s best budding artists will be showcased this month at the Portland Museum of Art as part of National Youth Art Month.

The exhibit, held in collaboration with Maine Art Education Association, will include more than 100 pieces of art from students all across Maine, including Brian Fetzner, a first-grade student at Kennebunk Consolidated School.

“The purpose of this art exhibit is to help advocate for the art programs in public schools all across the state,” said Stacy Rodenberger, the museum’s assistant director of student and teacher learning. “This is about celebrating art.”

Rodenberger said the pieces of artwork are chosen by individual art teachers, who, as members of the Maine Art Education Association, are entitled to submit one piece of art from each school where they teach.

“We do not jury or edit what comes in,” she said. “The teachers select the work and we install it.”

Audrey Grumbling, Fetzner’s art teacher, said her students were asked to create a painting of autumn leaves and think about leaf shape and color.

“First-grader Brian Fetzner found a very creative solution to the assignment,” she said. “His piece shows autumn leaves floating above a bird’s eye-view of a miniaturized landscape. It is a remarkable vision for a 6-year-old. In addition to painting several life-sized autumn leaves tumbling in the sky, in the upper right of his painting Brian has depicted a portion of a clock extending off the page, with sky, fields and landscape serving as background elements. His composition is very creative and intriguing.”

The exhibit, which runs through the end of the month, is always one of the museum’s most popular, Rodenberger said.

“I’ve seen a lot of the artwork and it is incredible,” said Anna Schember, an assistant in the museum’s public relations department. “There is definitely a wide range of mediums and techniques, as well as themes and subject matters.”

Schember said there is a “fair amount” of artwork inspired by the ocean and the work of Winslow Homer, an artist who spent the last 30 years of his life living and working out of a small studio at Prouts Neck in Scarborough.

The museum recently concluded a series of exhibitions dedicated to Homer and, in September, opened his artist studio to the public after a six-year renovation process.

Homer’s work has been a regular feature at the museum since 1976, when Charles Payson Shipman donated 17 pieces of Homer’s work to the museum.

To have their work hang in the same museum as the work of Homer and other iconic artists is a great opportunity for the young artists, Schember said.

“It’s an incredible feeling for them and their families. You can tell how proud the parents are (when they see the work),” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity. Artists can submit their work for years and never get into a museum like this. This isn’t something that happens everywhere. It is definitely a unique opportunity for the students and something for them to be proud of.”

Grumbling also said having work showcased in the Portland Museum of Art is something that Fetzner and the other youth artists should be proud of. To recognize this accomplishment, each artist was handed a certificate in an awards ceremony at the exhibit opening Saturday, March 2.

“By having their work exhibited at such a well-respected and fabulous venue as the Portland Museum of Art, children learn what they do is important, and that adults respect and value their efforts,” Grumbling said. “In addition to seeing the artwork of great adult artists, children can be inspired by the work of other children. They can see that their work is valued and hung in a real gallery setting in a real art museum. It is a powerful recognition and experience for young artists.”

While the artwork is grouped together in one exhibition, each is unique and has a back story of its own.

“One of the things I have learned from the art teachers over the years is, these pieces have very much to do with the individual artists and how they created that particular piece of work,” Rodenberger said. “All the works of art show have a story behind them.”

Rodenberger said this is the 19th year the Maine Art Education Association and the museum have teamed up to celebrate National Youth Art Month.

“It’s a bright, colorful and beautiful exhibition that shows the great art that is being done in the state,” Rodenberger said. “In these days of budget cuts and difficult economic times, art programs are often the first to get cut. This is a reminder of the really important work that is happening in the schools and how important it is for the students to be able to stretch their minds through the arts.”

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