AOTA is honored to be awarded one of only 25 Regional Impact Grants from the Community Foundation of NCW. Give NCW will help us to continue the Beauty of Bronze and more as we make some exciting and necessary changes within our organization. Adele Wolford, founder and current president, will be passing the torch to the next generation of staff in this new phase of our organization. Your donation will help support general operations, programming and education to ensure that art remains on our avenues to be enjoyed by residents and tourists for years to come. Please consider donating – we appreciate your support! Continue reading
Wenatchee fifth-graders try hands-on sculpting with Kevin Pettelle
The following article and interview was published in the Wenatchee World Sept. 26, 2017, 1:33 p.m:
WENATCHEE — Northwest bronze sculptor Kevin Pettelle devotes a week each autumn to work with Wenatchee fifth-graders as part of the Beauty of Bronze program. Kevin is the 2012 Artist of the Year for the Schack Arts Center in Everett. He is well known for his bronze statues, particularly of J.P. Patches on display in Seattle, and Guppo the Clown, in honor of longtime Youth Circus director Paul Pugh, on display in Wenatchee. Five of Kevin’s sculptures are on display locally.
Kevin has worked with more than 6,000 students in Wenatchee over the last 14 years — 600 this year alone — in the Beauty of Bronze program. Kids learn the elements of the art and explore specific sculptures at the Performing Arts Center and in Riverfront Park. They work collaboratively to create temporary environment sculptures from natural materials in the Andy Goldsworthy Challenge.
The final activity of the day has students creating their own sculptures out of wax, which will be sent to a foundry and cast in bronze, and returned to students to keep. The children’s sculptures will be featured at an artists’ reception held in their honor at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center the first Friday in December.
I walked with Kevin as he headed to the sculpture garden in Riverfront Park with about 80 children from John Newbery Elementary School trailing behind, and asked him some questions. Here’s what he had to say:
Q What keeps you coming back to Wenatchee for weeks of full days teaching children about the art of bronze sculpture?
A I developed (the program) with Jeanette Morantos. We thought that fifth-graders are at this cusp of their life — they still have all the openness of childhood, but they’re about to enter into young adulthood. I want to not only introduce them to the concepts of sculpture … but also I wanted to have the kids experience something that they never thought they could do.
Q Tell us about your life as a sculptor.
A It’s a constant set of challenges. It never gets easy. You’re constantly having to figure things out and work through problems, and that’s one of the things that these kids will experience today when they’re creating their sculpture. They’re going to have to move through problems and I’ll be there as their guide.
What (the artist life) offers me is, in a very simplistic way, a legacy. Even though that it’s not ego-based, I think every human being wants to make a mark. Nobody will ever remember my name, but they’ll know what my soul looks like.
Q Why do you think it’s important to expose these kids to art?
A I think art — especially beauty — is one of those things that opens your core. A lot of people think that art is sometimes an indulgence … that comes along if there’s the money. But I think it’s an important part of a community and a person’s life. It’s something that moves them. For a community I think it enriches the cultural aspect of it. Everything isn’t just practical — there’s something beyond that.
Q Any final thoughts about working with Wenatchee’s students?
A I find it to be very inspiring. My life is usually in solitude. I love working with children. I love the way that their mind works. When I’m looking at them at the end of the day, I’m just blown away at how brilliant they are.
One of the main reasons is the same thing that makes the program so unique: bronze.
Many elementary art programs give students the opportunity to make sculptures but very few are cast in bronze. Those that do are almost exclusively only for those children whose parents can pay or a special one-time-only
sponsored project. Art on the Avenues is committed to providing this unique experience for all fifth graders in the Wenatchee school district and beyond, year after year. It is our dream to expand to other local school districts as well.
We are thankful to have a relationship with a foundry in Oregon which offers us the expensive ancient lost wax casting process at a reduced cost. Even so, with the growing number of students who participate each year the casting cost alone is significant. However, on an individual scale, is it easy to see how even small donations can help.
Here is a video of one of the more dramatic steps in the bronzing process:
Student bronze images and video courtesy of Todd Pettelle, Northwest Artworks, Inc.
Save the 2020 Beauty of Bronze
2020’s Beauty of Bronze (BOB) program is not yet funded and we need your help. We are so proud to be able to provide such a unique and special opportunity to Wenatchee’s fifth graders at no cost to them. As a 501C3 non-profit we receive no tax dollars and are not funded by the city. We fund all our programs through grants and donations. We are hoping that the community will step up to help support BoB. There are many expenses involved in bringing this opportunity to the local children such as bronze casting at the foundry; wax, Sculpy and other supplies for each student; space rental; the professional artist in residence; and administrative costs for the enormous amount of work required to bring this experience to life, to name a few. The Beauty of Bronze started small with one class in one school and over the years has continued to grow to over 600 students. Click the link above to donate to our cause. Let’s see what the community can do to help keep this rare art tradition going for another year. Thank you!
Change is in the wind…
The time has come for our bi-annual exhibit change. Several of the sculptures from our last exhibit are going home and new pieces are joining our fold.
Some of the permanent pieces will be moving around too.
The exhibit section of our website will be a bit thin, and the 2014-2016 brochure’s map will be just a bit off — that is until our new exhibit officially opens in June.
Thanks for your patience!