imagine, create and grow together while bringing art appreciation and value to local communities
The first clue K12 Gallery is not a usual art gallery is the building itself: the warehouse size space where Jefferson and Patterson Avenues meet is a cacophony of color, quotes and pictures. The whole building was painted through a project several years ago that included one lead artist, several students, and one diesel cherry picker.
Walk in the doors and there may be any number of people working in a variety of mediums – a teenage art class painting self-portraits, 8-year-olds working a pottery wheel, or a kindergarten group making a sculpture. You may see professional artists honing their craft, hear the buzz of a saw in the woodworking studio, or observe the chairs being painted for the umpteenth time (they regularly get new designs depending on the art class operating at the moment).
“If there is any flat surface, it gets painted,” said K12 Board President Walt Hoy, viewing a painting on one of the moveable walls built by the Western Ohio Woodworking Club when K12 first moved in.
The non-profit organization started in 1993 by Jerri Stanard as a way to inspire young people to “imagine, create and grow together” while bringing art appreciation and value to local communities. Teen Educational & Joint Adult Studio, known as TEJAS, was added to the organization in 2010 and offers teen and adult programs.
K12 and TEJAS offer Saturday classes for pre-K up through adults as well as private lessons, a youth drawing studio, birthday parties, field trips, an artist in residency program, monthly exhibitions (which the kids help mount and organize themselves), and space for both amateur and professional artists to rent for use. SMAG Dance Collective works with them as well, and there is always some type of art for sale in the front of the building.
The gallery also work with homeschools and 12 schools in the area to bolster the schools’ art curriculum. For Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School, K12 is the art program – the students actually walk to the gallery to take their art classes.
TEJAS has taken their classes into a different kind of school – one on lockdown. At the request of the Montgomery County Juvenile Courts, artists work with both male and female juvenile offenders in two lock-down facilities near the court itself, Center for Adolescent Services (CAS) and the Nicolas-Liberty School at the Frank W. Nicolas Residential Treatment Center for Youth. TEJAS artists teach the juveniles visual art, dance and music as well.
“We’ve had such a positive response – we’re thrilled with the results,” said K12 and TEJAS Program Director Kelly Sexton. “It has served as much more of a therapeutic asset than I would have realized.”
The court system contacted TEJAS after seeing the success of HAALO, which stands for Helping Adolescents Achieve Long-Term Objectives. That program started several years ago when a TEJAS staff member wanted to pursue a juvenile justice program. Teens on probation meet once a week at the studio to create art together with one of the gallery teachers.
The program is split into a fall, winter and spring session. If the teens complete the fall and winter program, they are eligible to be a part of the spring session – which involves the mural project.
HAALO participants have made mosaics, master replica murals and sculpture for display in the community. Have you noticed the murals on the corner of Sears and Third Streets? That’s their work. How about the metal sculpture on Fifth Street? Them again.
“At a closing reception, one of the students said how he now knew that he was able to do something – that he had never thought of himself as having a talent before,” Hoy recalled.
The 30/60/90 project developed the murals on the courthouse building at Ludlow and Third Streets. That is a group of men who are serving 30, 60 or 90 days in the Montgomery County jail. They get bussed to the K12 gallery on a night when no other classes are in session, and get to make art and have conversation in the woodworking studio. The men also help with building projects in the gallery itself.
Want to get involved?
The gallery is always seeking donations of consumable products like toilet paper and paper towels, and paint by the bucketful – especially house paint. They also request glass scraps for their stained glass and mosaic work.
To take a class, join in a mural or public art project, or sign up for their newsletter, visit www.k12gallery.com or www.tejasgallery.org . You can also keep up with current events by liking them on Facebook.