By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Paint brushes stick up at every angle from dripping buckets of paint, wet and dry canvasses line wooden tables and artists stand over them, mixing paint and finalizing details.
The room is milling with artists preparing for the Pathways gala.
These painters, many of whom have completed and hung their canvasses to be auctioned, are different from the usual gala contributors in one significant way. If they did attend the gala, they’d be heading to the celebration after a long day at elementary and middle school.
The Nov. 9 gala, called “A Place at the Table,” is a fund-raising event for the nonprofit Pathways for Children, hosted by Cruiseport Gloucester and slated to run from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets go for $150 per person, and guests are treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvers and a silent auction.
Local artists usually donate art for the auction, but this year will be the first time the Pathways Art Club kids, ages 6 to 12, will contribute their own art.
“This time, I guess somebody just said let’s do paintings by the kids too,” said Laurie Buller, the artist volunteer who taught the kids to paint on canvas and brought them to visit two local artists’ studios as a field trip.
Buller said the kids’ paintings could pull in some serious funds for the nonprofit. Plus, she said, the paintings hung on Pathways walls have already garnered some recognition for the young artists among their fellow students.
“When I go into another classroom now, the kids ask me about hanging their own artwork,” Buller said. “There’s obviously some kind of status and prestige about having your painting hung.”
The kids had used hand-mixed paint colors and sketched outlines to create paintings of everything from abstract snakes and aliens to self portraits and shipwrecks on their 16-by-20-inch canvasses.
One 10-year-old, Nick Nunes, got a lesson in inspiration, imagining what he would paint on the blank canvas after teachers told him he could paint anything in the world or even in his imagination.
“I was walking on the rocks and it came to me, and I knew this was it,” Nick said, jutting his shoulders back as he held his Wreck of the Hesperus painting up high.
Taylah Baseman, after helping another student prop up his art, smiled up at her alien painting hanging on it’s hallway hook. Taylah’s canvas revealed an alien with numerous limbs and a flare for various colors.
“It expresses how you can be creative and different and other stuff too,” 10-year-old Taylah said.
Ilyana Lorenzana, 8, was the last student to finish her canvas, patiently adding brush strokes to her image of a girl at prom until it was just right. Ilyana said she sketches every chance she gets, so the Pathways class has been a fun challenge for her.
“I think a lot of bids will go on my picture,” Ilyana said, ready to display her final project.
Ken Knowles, one of the artists who welcomed the kids into his studio to teach them about life as an artist — George Anderson being the other artist host — said the kids’ chance to auction their work could present a “double edged sword,” challenging young artists to find a balance between ego and striving for self-improvement.
“I think at a very young age kids might not usually be ready for that, but they have parents to help them with that and they have teachers at Pathways to help them,” Knowles said. “So maybe it’s not a bad thing, for the kids who will make a career of it, to get it out of the way now.
“I guarantee that some of these little pieces of art these kids made are going to actually get some pretty big bucks,” Knowles added.
Donations from artists are also likely to draw in significant dollars. A number of Cape Ann artists, including Knowles, painted trinket boxes and small tables that Pathways will auction off at the gala. Knowles’s first art donation to a Pathways gala, two painted Adirondack chairs, drew about $23,000, he said.
“It’s a huge chunk of change that I would have never been able to give to them in cash,” Knowles said. “And it inspired the donor to give more than they might have given because they’re getting something in return too.”
Knowles has donated art to each of Pathways’ galas since he was first asked to contribute in the 2006 gala.
“The reason why I did it the first time and I still do is because of what Pathways is,” Knowles said. “They’re offering an education to kids who normally wouldn’t be able to get it — and a good one at that.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.