Where do I begin with this story? Perhaps with a phone call from Rio Rancho High School teacher, Matthew Lutz. That was back in October, 2010. He was in the process of applying for a grant from the Rio Rancho's Community Foundation for a concept that he had for his students' art. The grant would cover the expense of producing and curating the work. He explained the concept to me, I thought it was an amazing idea, but he needed a place to exhibit it. He didn't want to apply for the grant if he didn't have a 'venue' to show the work.The problem with Rio Rancho is that it is a very young city. It will celebrate its 30 year anniversary in the next month or so (I don't know the exact date). We do not have any venues for art exhibits, really. Between the two of us, we agreed that City Hall would be the brass ring to shoot for. I need to add here by way of explanation that I became an Art Commissioner for the city in Jan. of 2010.
Mr. Lutz's concept? Genius. He photographed his students with their artwork. He also did all the post production work for each image. The caption above each student was, "I Am An Artist". With the grant money he had in hand, he calculated that 30 images was what he could produce. And, to be fair, he did an equal number of boys and girls. They were printed in poster size 16" x 20" and framed. On Wednesday of this week, he, his father, and a handful of dedicated students went over to city hall and hung the work in the city council chambers.
Mr. Lutz making one of countless measurements...
The other Mr. Lutz (dad) and two other students, Michael and Emily, making sure everything is exactly level. Exactly.
One of the many steps in preparing for the hang was to map and math things out...
This is along the back wall of the city council chambers.
You can see why the math was so critical.
Here is one of the images of Mr. Lutz's student, Chaparrel Nerkowski.
And another one of Michael Marcum. Who, by the way, was relentless in the hanging of the work in making sure every single piece was exactly level. Not once. Not twice, but numerous times.
There will be a reception for these students and other students from the mid high schools (Rio Rancho, Eagle Ridge and Lincoln mid high) who also have their work hanging in the hallway of city hall. The reception will be on Wednesday, January 26th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers. The public is welcome to the reception and it is free.The reception is just prior to our city council meeting. The Mayor will preside over the event. You can view the other work of the mid high students and another piece of art that will go into the permanent collection which was done by two fifth graders here.
Mr. Lutz also has a website for his art students' work. How awesome is it that, that a student can say that their work up on a website? You can view his students' work at www.myartclass.net
A colleague on the Art Commission asked me what do I get out doing things like this (I also curate art on a volunteer basis at two other sites in the city). The reward is in knowing that we have art in our city and in this case, I am proud that we have the art of our youth gracing the walls of city hall. Such a high place of honor for all parties involved. These students are our future. As adults, it is our obligation to involve them and to foster a connection to their community. I understand how an event like this can have a profound impact on the path of their life. Public validation for teens and our youth is something that we don't often see. Usually, it comes only by way of team sports.
I will say that pulling off something like this is a 'high'. Perhaps, even more than a 'high'. Elation. Even ecstatic. It is just as much a thrill as it was seeing the Rio Rancho High School Senior Art Show exhibited at the Inn at Rio Rancho last spring-with a full on reception, awards handed out by our Mayor, live music provided by the students. It was quite the celebration, just as I am sure this upcoming one will be.
I am also proud and extremely grateful that we have dedicated and committed teachers like Mr. Lutz in our school district. I know there are many more in our district that make an impact in their own ways-all for the better.
I cannot even begin to convey the excitement and anticipation I feel about the reception at city hall on Jan. 26th. If you live in the area, please stop by!