Arts for Life celebrates Portsmouth youths’ creativity

Talus Nightingale, a first-grader at Hathaway School, listens as high school art teacher Rose Escobar comments on the little girl's artwork during the opening reception of the Arts for Life exhibit at the library Monday afternoon. Talus Nightingale, a first-grader at Hathaway School, listens as high school art teacher Rose Escobar comments on the little girl's artwork during the opening reception of the Arts for Life exhibit at the library Monday afternoon.

Talus Nightingale, a first-grader at Hathaway School, listens as high school art teacher Rose Escobar comments on the little girl's artwork during the opening reception of the Arts for Life exhibit at the library Monday afternoon.

Talus Nightingale, a first-grader at Hathaway School, listens as high school art teacher Rose Escobar comments on the little girl’s artwork during the opening reception of the Arts for Life exhibit at the library Monday afternoon.

PORTSMOUTH —  Talus Nightingale and Rose Escobar were deep in conversation at the library Monday afternoon, two artists swapping tips on technique.

Ms. Escobar, an art teacher at Portsmouth High School, wanted to know how Talus achieved the textured effect on her colorful nature drawing hanging during the opening reception of the Arts for Life exhibit.

“Your put the leaf underneath the paper and then you rub it like this,” said Talus, a first-grader at Hathaway School.

As for her influences, Talus pointed to impressionist painter Claude Monet and said she likes to paint his gardens. “He’s a famous artist and he does tons of blobs with paint,” she pointed out.

Talus was on hand to greet the art-lovers at the opening of the annual Arts for Life celebration, part of National Youth Art Month.

Looking around the meeting room at the library, Hathaway and Melville art teacher Lindsay Adler was impressed by the various creations.

“I think this is an explosion of talent. I’m especially excited by the variety of media,” Ms. Adler said, adding that it’s fun seeing how her former students have progressed since she taught them. “It’s probably the most beautiful show we’ve done in five years.”

Ms. Escobar said Arts for Life was originally started up about 23 years ago, and the Youth Art Month exhibits have been going on for eight or nine years.

“The greatest gift is that we have the venues to share them,” she said, adding that student art doesn’t always get a big audience.

High school students are well-represented at the library exhibit. Identical twins and ninth-graders Jordan and Alistair Liptak both have works displayed there. Jordan said she likes art from the Renaissance, while Alistair prefers works from the 1800s. Neither girl was sure she wanted to pursue art as a career, although Alistair said she likes “things that you can be creative in.”

Ms. Escobar said it’s unfortunate there was such a large disparity between the large number of high school entries compared to those from the middle and elementary schools. That can be blamed on a shortage of art teachers at those schools, she said.

“There used to be three full-time elementary art teachers. Now we’re down to 1.4,” she said. “It’s not going to work in the long run. It’s going to stifle their creativity” as well as their happiness, she said.

Upcoming events

Here’s what’s on tap for Arts for Life in the coming weeks:

• “The Little Mermaid Jr.” musical will be staged at the middle school at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 14 and 15. Admission is $5.

• National Youth Art Month will be celebrated at the Newport Art Gallery from 4:30-7 p.m. Thursday, March 14. Works by Portsmouth students in kindergarten through grade 8 will be exhibited in the Coleman Center. “It’s a really big deal,” said Ms. Adler.

• The high school’s opening art reception, at Custom House Coffee from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, will feature a performance by the band Scarlet.

• The middle school’s K-12 art and music night is from 5-6:45 p.m. Thursday, March 21.

• The high school presents the musical “The Sound of Music” at 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, April 4-6. Admission is $10 ($5 for seniors and kids).

For more information, e-mail Ms. Escobar at escobarr@portsmouthschoolsri.org.

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