A group of local children were hard at work at a long, low table on the second floor of the Gadsden Arts Center in Quincy. They focused on drawings, prints-in-progress — for them, a new form of expression. These students were all part of Art Division’s visit to Quincy from Los Angeles.
According to the organization’s literature, “Art Division is a rigorous training program for under served young adults who show genuine commitment to the visual arts.”
Dan McCleary, who has taught at both UCLA and USC, founded Art Division after being involved with a program for teens — and noting where this program stopped.
“In LA, there’s very little programming for 18 to 26, so I wanted to create an art program for that age group,” said McCleary.
Now, in an experimental move for Art Division, McCleary and a select group of his young LA artists travelled to Quincy for a week of instruction with an even younger generation.
“This doubles as a cultural exchange — bringing Los Angeles to Quincy,” said Grace Robinson, Gadsden Arts Center’s executive director.
The Quincy students, according to McCleary, were excited to progress.
“We would get here on time, and they would get here earlier,” he said. “They were already working.”
These students electively participated in the program during their spring break.
“The group has grown,” said Maria Galacia, McCleary’s assistant, while she watched the students as they sat sketching on the courthouse lawn. “Each day students bring their friends and family members.”
As they advance, Galacia said the students want to share their excitement — and pass it along. So they begin teaching each other.
“They get to value the art more,” she said. “They learn a new skill that they can pursue.”
This presents a new outlet for the local children.
“They don’t do much art here,” said Roberto Oritz, one of the LA artists. “They don’t have that experience.”
Oritz said only one of the attending students reported having an art class in school. He also said the students were amazed when shown they could start making prints at home, on there own, with little more than a scrap of plastic foam and a pencil.
Robinson said the visit was designed in part to show young people that the arts center and art in general are accessible to them. McCleary and his artists all stressed this point. They wanted their Quincy students to know art is available to them as a hobby or, possibly, as a career.
An exhibition of the students’ and instructors’ work was on display Friday at the Art Center.