Center for the Arts keeps Valley Kids alive | PostIndependent.com
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Center for the Arts keeps Valley Kids alive

When Gayle Mortell’s daughter, Alyssa, was in preschool, her artwork was exhibited in a major art show.Alyssa is now an adult, and the Valley Kids art exhibit – which showcased her family portrait 16 years ago – is now in her mother’s hands.”My daughter was in the Valley Kids show when she was 3 and she was beside herself,” said Mortell, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, which is taking over Valley Kids from the Aspen Art Museum after 25 years of hosting the exhibit. “It’s a big deal for the arts, and it ties both ends of the valley together.”The Aspen Art Museum, under the direction of new director and chief curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, announced in October that it would no longer host Valley Kids. The decision upset many supporters of the show, an annual Roaring Fork tradition for students in preschool through their senior year of high school.”It seems like a fantastic opportunity for kids to see their art displayed,” Jacobson said. “People really desired a public venue for the exhibition of children’s arts.”Last week, Mortell asked program assistant Sinda Wood to contact Jacobson after Valley Kids was discussed at a meeting with Aspen Art Museum staff and art educators in Basalt.”Sinda called them and they were so excited about it,” Mortell said. “They want to work with us on it.”Jacobson said she was happy to oblige.”I think we’re supporting them by giving them our blessing,” she said. “I wholeheartedly support the decision and am glad we chose the Center for the Arts. We had other interested organizations.”In place of Valley Kids, Aspen Art Museum will offer the free Young Curators of the Roaring Fork Valley program for children ages 13-18. Participants’ work will be featured in the “Young Curators and Artists of the Roaring Fork” exhibit this spring at Aspen Meadows’ Kresge Building.Mortell said she hopes to accentuate Valley Kids – taking place April 7-30 – with fun, creative programming for young artists.”It’s going to be the year of the child this year,” Mortell said. “We’re going to do some hands-on arts workshops with themes. In the past we’ve done ‘Rockets and Robots’ and ‘Under the Sea,’ and we’ve had paint stations for the kids.”With support such as a recent $3,000 Target grant, the Center for the Arts would also like to expand the show that showcases more than 1,000 pieces of art from kids valleywide.”Valley Kids is huge, and it’s something I’ve coveted for a while,” Mortell said. “We want to keep it in the building, and use the entire building, but we can also grow it to the (Glenwood Springs) Community Center or WestStar Bank. I feel like the Glenwood Center for the Arts has so much momentum right now, and I want to keep that going.”Recalling her daughter’s positive experience with Valley Kids, Mortell said she mostly wants the exhibit to continue to thrive.”I remember Alyssa did this really cute picture of our family, and they even took her picture for the Aspen Times,” she said. “She’s 19 years old now. I just thought it was such a fantastic program.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com


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