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Art in the Burbs offers splash of color

Annual art showcase brings beauty, funding to Tigard-Tualatin


by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The annual Art in the Burbs art show returns to Tigard next weekend. For teachers like Brenna White, money from Art in the Burbs helps to fund all kinds of projects, like the large murals at Durham Elementary School. Students helped paint the murals with White's help.When Brenna White first stepped foot in Alberta Rider Elementary School, it was as an artist, looking to get her work out there.

Today, she’s a teacher at the school, and getting ready for the biggest weekend of Alberta Rider's year: Art in the Burbs.

Artists from across the Pacific Northwest are putting the finishing touches on their creations in anticipation of the 14th annual Art in the Burbs art show, which kicks off Friday, Oct. 18.

The show is a major fundraising tool for The Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools, a nonprofit group that raises money for classrooms across the district.

Twenty percent of each artists' proceeds will go into a special arts grant for the district, which helps pay for everything from drums and xylophones, to drawing paper and pottery kilns.

As a teacher at Alberta Rider, White said she incorporates all different kinds of art into her classroom.

“We do art every day in my classroom,” she said. “It’s just the way it is. When we do graphs, we use a lot of colors and incorporate art into math … I use art everywhere. It really makes it more appealing to them.”

As an artist, White's work can be seen at McMenamins restaurants and on posters for Tualatin’s upcoming Giant Pumpkin Regatta. Her paintings have appeared in Art in the Burbs for many years, and she has worked with several schools on art projects.

Last year, White helped students at Durham Elementary School create large murals for their cafeteria, which depicted the seasons.

That project, funded by money from Art in the Burbs, got first- and second-grade students involved in making art, using finger-painting and handprints to create the leaves of the trees.

“When you are working with kids, you watch them get so excited about what they are doing," she said. "They have access to all these things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do at all.”

Get involved

What: Art in the Burbs fundraiser for Tigard Tualatin Schools

Where: Alberta Rider Elementary School, 14850 S.W. 132nd Terrace, Tigard

When: Friday, Oct. 18, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Who benefits: 20 percent of each sale goes to art programs in the Tigard-Tualatin School District

How much: $3 at the door on Friday. $2 suggested donation on Saturday and Sunday

More info: artintheburbs.org

A district event

More than 75 artists from across the Northwest will be on hand at next week's show, displaying every variety of fine art imaginable: painting, pottery, woodworking, jewelry, glass, watercolor, photography, garden art, fiber art and more, said Rachael Mortensen, who sits on Art in the Burbs' board of directors.

“These are high-level artists. It’s not a craft show, or a farmer’s market. This is a step above,” she said. “We have cultivated a sense in the art community that this is a cool place to be.”

The show draws big crowds from across the Portland area. A few thousand people are expected to explore the various art displays at Alberta Rider Elementary School.

“The reach is tremendous,” Mortensen said.

Its success over the past decade-and-a-half comes from its message of community involvement, Mortensen said.

“It’s not an Alberta Rider event, it’s a district event that benefits every school,” Mortensen said. “This is about the kids, and every school in the district. There aren’t many events in the district that are for absolutely everyone.”

The show’s wide appeal has helped to make it a major success for The Foundation. Since 2007, Art in the Burbs has helped fund more than $85,000 in art grants to Tigard-Tualatin schools.

“And that number is only getting bigger,” Mortensen said. “When you consider shrinking budgets for the schools, this helps with not just art classes, but drama and music and things they wouldn’t be able to get outside of school.”

Stave off budget cuts

by: SUBMITTED - Carol Brown and sister Terry Rood scope out button rings during Art in the Burbs fundraiser last year. The event returns to Alberta Rider Elementary School with more than 75 artists from across the Pacific NighwestFor many districts, art programs are often the first things on the chopping block when budgets get tight, White said.

Earlier this year, parents at Hazelbrook Middle School cried foul after the district said it was cutting a middle school music teacher due to budget cuts.

That decision was later reversed, but elementary schools in Tigard-Tualatin have been without art teachers for years, something that was unthinkable when White was growing up, she said.

“That’s why Art in the Burbs is so important,” she said. "It helps keep these programs."

Much of Art in the Burbs’ money goes to support the district’s Art Literacy program. The 30-year-old program teaches kids about famous artists and their artistic styles.

For adults who may have grew up taking those Art Literacy classes, they understand how important they can be, Mortensen said.

“Art in the Burbs touches everyone in the community, whether you have kids in the district or not, and whether you like art or not,” Mortensen said. “There are a lot of community events in Tigard, but this brings together the entire community, whether you are an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent. You know that every dollar you spend goes right back to the kids.”

And although Halloween decorations are only starting to go up around town, Mortensen said it’s not too early to think about shopping for the holiday season.

“I think it’s a great excuse to get out and do holiday shopping and find something unique,” she said. “And you feel like you’re doing good, too.”



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