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Why Art Matters

Humanity First: Raising Money for Education Through Art

By Matt Villano
The Healdsburg Tribune

Bradford Brenner is one of many talented artists with a gallery in Healdsburg. To members of a variety of north county school communities, Brenner is much more - he’s the artist who works with local kids to create collaborative paintings he then donates to charity, paintings that will raise big bucks for Sonoma County education this year alone. Recently, a masterpiece that Brenner engineered with all of the 3-to-5-year-old students at Live Oak Preschool sold for $1,700 during the 41st annual Live Oak Preschool Dinner Dance Auction fundraiser. Earlier this month, a separate painting Brenner did with kindergarten students at Healdsburg Charter School (HCS) sold for $1,300 at a fundraiser for that school’s Parent Teacher Organization. Brenner takes nothing for his efforts; all the money raised goes back to the schools Later this spring, bid-callers at fundraising events will auction off three more Brenner-and-schoolkids original pieces. All told, Brenner himself says the five-auction total has a “realistic chance” to eclipse $20,000 — serious money to spark serious change. “I’ve been so welcomed by this community, this is the least I can do to give back,” he says. “Art is a gift onto itself, but, in this case, the money certainly helps these schools, as well.”  

The artist’s process for the fundraisers is simple. First, he gets acrylic paints, brushes and other materials donated by Riley Street Art Supply in Santa Rosa. Next, he lets the students paint. In the case of the HCS and Live Oak paintings, Brenner visited the respective school campuses and gave each student about one minute at each canvas. His only rules: No thinking, just paint what comes to mind. “There are so many moments in today’s day and age where a child’s creativity is restricted,” he says. “My thinking was to let them do whatever they wanted; that way every child in the school would be embodied in each piece.” Once every student has had a turn, Brenner takes the painting back to his gallery for embellishing and refinement.  Read entire article

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