HALLOWELL — The artwork wrapped around the walls of the Harlow Gallery, progressing from paintings by kindergarteners and first-graders of animals and flowers to more detailed portraits by middle school students.

Saturday morning, when the earliest grades were encouraged to attend the exhibit opening, the children posed in front of their drawing and paintings. Some pointed at their artwork above their heads as they smiled for cellphone pictures. For many of the young students, it was the first time they saw their artwork somewhere besides in schools or homes.

“They hang them in the hallways at school, but this is like, other people are coming in to see it,” said Jen Brown, whose 6-year-old daughter, Abby, had a painting in the show. “I think it’s exciting and a little bit intimidating. I don’t think she realizes how many people would be here.”

Abby Brown, a first-grader at Farrington Elementary School in Augusta, showed off her painting of a mother cat feeding her kittens that was mounted on the gallery wall.

“I miss my old cat because he died,” she said. “I just draw cats because I miss them.”

Abby’s father, Bobby Brown, said she recently told him she wants to be an art teacher when she grows up.

“She loves to draw. She loves painting. She likes anything crafty,” he said.

It was the 12th annual Young at Art K-8 Exhibition at the downtown Hallowell art gallery. Art teachers from more than 20 Kennebec County area schools were allowed to submit up to eight pieces of artwork from their kindergarten-through-eighth-grade students.

Deborah Fahy, executive director of the arts organization, said the gallery wants to support and promote what art teachers do because art programs often are endangered when school districts look to cut budgets. Students who do art aren’t always the best at academics or sports, so the exhibit gives people with talents in the arts a chance to be acknowledged and celebrated, Fahy said.

She said having art in schools is crucial to developing creative thinking, a skill valued by employers.

“We’ve had college-aged students come back and say being in this show was a pivotal moment for them,” Fahy said. “It’s boosted their self esteem, and it was just a big deal in their life. That’s an amazing thing to hear.”

The Young at Art exhibit will be on the walls of Harlow Gallery through March 22. The gallery is holding its annual exhibition of high school student artwork from Friday through March 28 at the University of Maine at Augusta’s Richmond Gallery at 331 Water St. in downtown Augusta. The opening reception is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Betsy Allen-McPhedran, an art teacher at elementary schools in Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne, said she uses the exhibit to recognize outstanding students or students who put forth a lot of effort. She said students don’t see the value of their art appreciated much.

“It’s another step up I can give a few kids to recognize their exceptional talent,” Allen-McPhedran said.

Maya Shaw, 7, a second-grader at Stepping Stones Montessori School in Chelsea, had a drawing and watercolor of a “house slash barn” at the exhibit. Shaw, who lives in Gardiner, said she likes drawing housings and used her imagination to come up with the brown structure, painted alongside a tree with leaves changing colors for the fall, one of her two favorite seasons. (Spring being the other, she said.)

Shaw said she drew with pastels and then used watercolor paint to fill in the colors between the objects for her piece, the first that made it into a gallery

“I’m amazed,” she said, “because I didn’t (know) I could get this far in art.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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