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Lander PALS teams up with Arapaho artist

May 26, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

PALS, or Promoting Arts in Lander, teamed up with Arapaho artist Robert Martinez last week to be the featured visiting artist of their new program this year: Art Observation.

"Our goal is to focus on native artists in this program," said programming director Lori Hunter. "The goal of the program is to let students see the process, time and patience art can take."

PALS brings art education to all Lander students in grades Kindergarten to twelfth, including private schools and home-schooled students. PALS provides the programs for free as they operate on grants, private donations, funds from the local school district and Challenge for Charities donations.

"Our programming includes art observation and hands-on arts in visual, performing, music and writing," Hunter said.

Martinez visited the school for five days during the students' lunch period and demonstrated a piece from start to finish.

"For the Students at Baldwin Creek Elementary School I started a semi-large painting and showed them how I lay in the general tones and shades for the first half of my work," Martinez said. "They got to see me airbrush the acrylic underpainting which I will go over with oil paint to finish the piece."

The art demonstrations gave Martinez the opportunity to teach technique, color usage, and composition. Most importantly, Martinez said the demos allow the person viewing them to "alter their perception of what they're looking at."

"For example many of the students this week asked me "Who are you painting?"" Martinez said. "One of my goals was to try and get them to be open to the thought that just because a painting is of a person, that doesn't mean that person has to be famous or a particular person."

That painting of a person can be about an idea, a message or a feeling, he explained. He hopes the students left the demos with a new experience. Exposure to different types of artwork that aren't common in Wyoming is a learning experience in itself, Martinez said.

The students were also exposed to a skill and talent that people can learn to do over time to produce a good, finished piece, he said.

Students enjoyed his visit and complimented his work and asked questions, Hunter said. Martinez certainly walks away with his own experience as well.

"Finding out what people think as they view your art is always helpful, as is engaging them in conversation," he said. "Kids are especially good at pointing out particulars like "thats too blue" or "Are you going to paint with any other colors?" And then the inevitable follow up "Why?"

Martinez is then, propelled to "go back and honestly reevaluate" what he has produced.

"Studies have shown that education in arts improves GPA scores and standardized test scores, lowers drop out rates and improves students' attitudes toward community service," Hunter said. "PALS' mission is to promote arts education to all students, equalizing access."

Hunter highlighted other big program events such as a visit from cartoonist and musician John Kidwell who attended Jeffrey City school, a "Living Voices, A New American" presentation for seventh grade students, "TR! The Man in the Arena" a single-man stage show about Teddy Roosevelt for eighth grade students, Moscow Nights/Golden Gates, a Russian dance and music show for the fourth and fifth grade classes, and a writing workshop with Carol Deering and Echo Klaproth for the sixth grade students.

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