Grand Valley’s Super Rad Art Jam helps students with creative outlets |

Grand Valley’s Super Rad Art Jam helps students with creative outlets

Brittany Markert
Jason Do stands in front of his artwork displayed through Super Rad Art Jam's monthly exhibit at Mesa County Libraries' central location (443 N. Sixth St., in Grand Junction).
Submitted photo |


WHAT: Super Rad Art Jam Redlands Middle School art reception

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 4, 6-8 p.m.

WHERE: Mesa County Libraries’ Central Branch, 443 N. Sixth St., Grand Junction

COST: Free


to promote the arts and give local children more opportunities to express creativity, a group of Grand Valley residents joined forces 10 years ago to form what would become Super Rad Art Jam.

Back then Naomi Barlow, Jason Lee Bradham, Bryan Wade, Jess Rigg, along with several others, hosted an art show benefiting area art students, which became an annual event.

Over the years, the show continued to morph into an arts-focused nonprofit, which has aided more than 4,000 student artists in after-school programs over the last decade. It now boasts a yearly operating budget of around $10,000, and only $1,500-2,500 comes from grants each year. The rest is collected through local fundraising efforts.

“Arts education promotes critical thinking skills,” Barlow said. “It creates unique problems that have unique solutions that won’t happen again.”

Now Super Rad Art Jam works closely with Mesa County Valley School District 51 art teachers to provide students with increased access to art instruction. It also provides students with access to art workshops and exhibits outside of regular school curriculum.

“It’s important for these students to have a voice,” Barlow explained.

As part of the program, more than 150 students display their work at Mesa Mall (2424 Highway 6, Grand Junction) each spring. It gives students experience in displaying artwork, exposure to a wide demographic of locals, and selling art pieces. Plus, it gives participating students much-needed volunteer hours.

During the annual exhibit at Mesa Mall, participating students also have the chance to compete in 18 award categories, including best of show. Trophies are constructed by Super Rad Art Jam students, too.

According to Barlow, many students participate in Super Rad’s annual Mural Jam as well. It’s hosted at a different Grand Junction skatepark (there are three) each year and starts with a skateboard competition. Throughout the day, mural artists paint at the park in partnership with the City of Grand Junction. Super Rad art is additionally showcased at Central Library’s teen center in Grand Junction.


As it continues to grow, Super Rad Art Jam hopes to provide more scholarships, workshops and events for Grand Valley students interested in the arts each year. It is currently raising funds for the annual art show and continuing-education sponsorship for teens and young adults.

“It’s important to have this outlet to keep kids out of trouble,” Barlow said. “It gives them purpose and focus.”

No Coast Sushi recently held a “Give Back” night, where 20 percent of sales (which amounted to $1,000) were donated to Super Rad Art Jam. That money helped fund a trip for 25 students to visit Anderson Ranch, located in Snowmass Village, and Aspen Art Museum in Aspen.

Anderson Ranch also provided four full scholarships for Super Rad students to attend a full week of art workshops. That included attendance of one chaperon, and the cost of an off-campus condo for the stay. Super Rad is currently working to raise another $1,000 to cover additional student expenses for the trip.

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