NAMTA Members Support The Arts

Why Art Matters

Don Dow, CEO and owner of Artograph, celebrated his 39th anniversary with the company this month and looks forward to soon beginning his 5th decade in the art materials world. Coming into Artograph, a maker of tools for artists since 1947, Don brought a strong sense of advocacy for art education, having been a high school art teacher.

This connection to art education remains with Artograph to this day as the company frequently donates art materials to schools and art education programs. This support has gone to programs as diverse as a veterans’ art center in Colorado, to a program in Oklahoma to which Artograph donated a large quantity of light boxes for use in art therapy for the elderly to aid in fighting memory loss, and a charity arts center in southern California. Recently, a struggling rural school in North Carolina received a donation of Artograph products to support their efforts to revive their art classes. Their teacher said the students were unused to having new, high quality art materials to work with and were thrilled with the tools Artograph sent.

Before opening our store in 2015, I spent 40 years of my life directing community arts centers. Prior to that, I taught college level art for six years. But it was during my arts center years that I advocated for all of the arts for all of the people. I developed the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, OH 1979-1991. From 1991-2015, I was founding executive director of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts here in Hamilton, OH. It was during those many years that I worked with city councils, mayors, state elected officials, community leaders, school boards, and others to convince them that the arts matter in people’s lives.

I was able, over time, to convince decision makers that investment in the arts was an investment in the quality of life of the community. My evidence was how the arts improved the performance of students in the public schools (backed by our own empirical research); impact on economic development; achievement of goals for under-served populations; and how the arts helped to improve social inequities. Advocacy never ends, so when I retired to open Renaissance, I still advocate for the arts, but now more for the visual arts. I am most comfortable here since I have a Master’s degree in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. When I speak to groups, I always point out how the arts have the power to improve communities and bring meaning to people’s lives.

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

Marabu was proud to be one of the sponsors for Empty Bowls - Detroit, an annual event that raises funds and awareness for families in need of food, housing, health services and job programs. Marabu provided a large shipment of paint for their community bowl-painting workshops. The painted ceramic bowls are then sold at the event. Details at The Empty Bowls Project was founded in 1990 when Michigan art teacher John Hartom, and wife Lisa Blackburn, challenged his high school art students to make 120 ceramic bowls and a personal difference. Hartom's students accepted the challenge and made enough bowls for the entire school staff to use as serving pieces for soup at the school fundraiser. Guests were given basic information about hunger and, to their surprise, were asked to keep their bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The reaction of the staff was telling. Hartom and Blackburn realized something very powerful had occurred. What was to be a one-time luncheon became an international grassroots effort to help fight hunger, thus starting he Empty Bowls Project. Empty Bowls Detroit began in 2007 with a youth group that painted 100 bowls and raised $500. In 2017, 11 years since we began, Empty Bowls Detroit attracted more than 600 attendees and raised more than $35,000 for CCSS. None of this would be possible without our generous volunteers, donors and sponsors. All ‘personnel’ are unpaid volunteers and we are proud to declare that 100% of all net proceeds are passed on to CCSS to feed those in need. Often joined by artisans, craftspeople, churches, schools, and youth groups, independent Empty Bowls events across the U.S. and Canada have raised millions of dollars in the fight against hunger. Regardless of the location, sponsors, and the bowls used, all events include a simple meal and a bowl to take home to remind us that someone's bowl is always empty.

Hot Wire Foam Factory was recently approached by artist Cory Hunt who was working with a non-profit organization called The Magic Wheelchair. Cory had a project to do and needed to get it done fast! Foam was his medium of choice and How Wire jumped at the chance to help in his quest. In 3 short weeks, their new found artist friend created a Fortress of Solitude Super Girl costume for a little girl named Zoe (pictured below). 

From the good people at Hot Wire Foam Factory -  "Our story is short in that we were able to participate from a distance by donating a kit, but it made us proud to know we could help in a small way to make a big difference. This tool kit will go on to make many other projects. We hope this story encourages others to be open to saying YES and making magical moments for people you may never even meet."

FM Brush recently hosted a Paint Night for the organization Splashes of Hope. They donated the brushes and brought in a group of artists to the Splashes location on Long Island, Dynasty Artists Shar Sosh and Sandy McTier, and FM Brush family and friends. Blick Art Materials donated the paint. The group painted all sorts of ceiling tiles and murals to be installed at the Northport VA Medical Center. 

Splashes of Hope and Dynasty Brush have a very special relationship forged through the hearts of both Splashes of Hope founder Heather Buggee and FM Brush's late CEO Frederick V. Mink. Mr. Mink is pictured below with a hat on with Veterans from the Adult Day Health Care room with the murals Splashes of Hope created for a project in 2014, a vintage Coney Island theme.

Over the past ten years, San Francisco's real estate market has been fueled by the tech industry, driving many artists and arts organizations, including dozens of galleries, out of the city or out of business. Realizing that there was a dearth of exhibit space in San Francisco for photographers, Pina Zangaro converted two large spaces in the front of their building for use as a photo gallery. They host five or six large exhibitions a year, all at no cost to the exhibitors, in addition to many smaller arts events. In a city that lacks exhibition space, the Pina Zangaro Gallery has become an important resource for photographers at all levels. Additionally, the Gallery has been a great tool for better connecting with the users of our print presentation products.

Through April 19th, The Gallery is hosting a reception for First Exposures, a youth mentoring program for under-served youth in the Bay Area that provides a creative outlet for students to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment and encourage them to become articulate, confident, and responsible young adults. Participation in the program is voluntary, and students commit to attend class once a week, each Saturday, for at least one academic semester. Mentors come from an array of photographic backgrounds, but all come to the program with a commitment and dedication to arts mentoring.

Dixon Ticonderoga Company and The Kids In Need Foundation have worked together to ensure success in the classroom for over a decade.

There are 40 KINF Resource Center locations in the United States, distributing much needed school supplies to kids who would otherwise go without. This year Dixon has donated 70,000 in fine art supplies, which will be distributed to the Resource Centers, and is working with 10 KINF Resource Centers are working with ten local artists to create 20 fine art pieces using products from the Maimeri, Canson, and Daler-Rowney brands. Ten masterpieces will be auctioned off at the national KINF annual gala and 10 pieces of art will be auctioned off at the local level to raise money for local Resource Centers. Dixon also donates up to $1,500,000 in products annually to KINF Resource Centers.

“Creativity ignites learning within all of us,” said Dave Smith, executive director of The Kids In Need Foundation. “It is exciting to witness the important role Dixon plays in supporting our Resource Centers and helping students receive the supplies they need to succeed.”  

About The Kids In Need Foundation 
The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. The Kids In Need Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1995, has distributed nearly $900 million in school supplies, directly benefiting 5.4 million students and nearly 200,000 teachers annually. For more information, visit, and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @KidsInNeed

Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. (Oct 5, 2015)

Early in July, Marianne Bennett, owner of MM Manufacturing aka Marvelous Marianne's received this email from a rural Title 1 school.

"I would like to request a donation of your product for our school's art program. We are a small, rural, Title I school who does not have a large budget for purchasing items from year to year, therefore we rely heavily on donations. Our art room does not have a sink and in order for students to clean up, they must walk to the nearest student bathrooms which are a considerable distance away and make it difficult for me to monitor the classroom and the bathroom simultaneously as the two rooms are out of sight of one another. Since this is a gentle cleaner that can be used without water, it would be a very welcome and appreciated addition to our room."

Under the teacher's name was "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."  - J.R.R Tolkien

Marianne said, "All of us, suppliers, retailers and reps donate items but this email for a rural Title 1 school in Rural may be reminder to all of us of the importance of our art giving."

Art Walk recently took place in Edmonton, Canada. It is eight blocks of unrestrained creativity with around 450 artists and craftspeople - Graffiti, pop, surrealism, art nouveau, impressionism, and just plain cool looking items. Festival producer, and owner of the Paint Spot, Kim Fjordbotten, has been there since the beginning in 1995. In its 22nd year, Art Walk brings waves of symbolic communication of imagination in the public realm. The Edmonton Journal said “Kim deserves credit for institutionalizing, coordinating and making possible something our bylaws-obsessed local reality would otherwise instinctively stand in the way of in the name of law and boredom.”

Encouragement and opportunity are a big part of what draws crowds and artists to the festival. Artists usually have to turn to either the online storefront, or just hope for a gallery show, Art Walk provides a space for everyone to equally display the fruits of their labour.

Kim hopes someday Art Walk won’t just be for a weekend in July, but for the entire summer. She makes a strong case – “It’s an important part of the community. It takes the art from out of the studios and the closets and the garden sheds and brings both the work and the artists to where the people are. I call myself a mother bear sometimes, because I think art often gets relegated to frivolous or looked at as the first thing we can cut because it’s not that important. For those of us in the arts to articulate why it is important is really hard. People see it as it’s nice, or it’s enjoyable, or it’s stress relieving. To me, it’s the cornerstone of our society.”

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