Work of young art students to be displayed in Newberry

NEWBERRY – An unusual exhibit Thursday will showcase the artwork of nearly 50 young artists in the garage of their teacher in Newberry.

This is the eighth year teacher Linda Tucker has displayed the work of her kindergarten through eighth-grade students. She said she’s been doing it since budget cuts in the Tahquamenon Area Schools District eliminated art classes.

“I was upset because we had a great program going. The schools tend not to realize how important this is to the students,” Tucker said. “I think 46 students (this year) proves it.”

A self-taught artist, Tucker – who in addition to creating her own pen-and-ink illustrations and watercolor and acrylic artwork has worked for 16 years as a teacher’s aide in the Newberry schools – said after the budget cuts she wanted to continue to provide art instruction and studies of the master painters to children.

With the help of her husband, the dream became a reality.

“We felt this was important and we knocked out a wall in the basement,” Tucker said. “It was my studio down there, my own, and I turned it over to the kids. I get it back in the summer.”

During the school year, in the four months leading up to the exhibit, Tucker conducts art classes, providing art supplies, snacks and juice for her students for a $40 monthly fee. Tucker said some local anonymous donors have sponsored several children attending the art classes.

“We use everything from watercolors to acrylics to sculptures,” Tucker said. “We use just about any kind of medium we can get our hands on.”

This year, about 600 pieces of artwork are scheduled to be displayed, including a large painting created as a homage to Georgia flag artist Jasper Johns that the kids have dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings.

Last year, about 275 people attended the exhibit, which is held in Tucker’s garage at 113 W. Truman Blvd. in Newberry. This year, the exhibit will run from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and will feature artists from Newberry and Curtis.

After the exhibition, the students, Tucker and attendees go to the United Methodist Church hall nearby to have hot dogs, sloppy joes and cake provided by Tucker and parents bring a dish to pass.

“I wanted it to be about family, that’s why we started the dinner,” Tucker said. “It makes the kids happy when parents and grandparents come to see their work.”

For more information on the exhibit or the art classes, contact Tucker at 293-3081.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.