Artists Capture Kids’ Interest with Paintings

By Rasha Aly • Palm Springs Sun • November 16, 2007

The bell just rang, and it’s time to go home.

But the kids don’t. Instead, they crowd around Vernon Finney and ask for autographs.

The 83-year-old Palm Springs artist stopped by Raymond Cree Middle School last week with a few of his paintings as a part of the Incredible Artist Tour.

The tour was coordinated by Rick Pantele, owner of the Gallery in Palm Springs. Pantele decided to give Palm Springs Unified School District students a taste of the art available in his gallery.

He and some artists visited different schools where they introduced the students to works not only by Finney but by up-and- coming artists Christopher Dailey and Toni Alexandra Garcia, as well.

The students critiqued the artwork, making their own observations.

“It’s what God created – and God created beautiful things,” seventh-grader Christiana Jones said about her favorite piece, “The Creator.”

Painted by Finney, the piece shows a colorful, human body reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man.” Unlike Da Vinci though, eight sections spiral out of the body, each depicting an element such as wind or water.

After the presentation of artworks, there were questions from the students.

One youngster asked how Dailey knew he wanted to be an artist. Dailey, 22, said he had his first sold-out art show at age 11.

“I’d been sketching and I wanted to do it in color,” the Desert Hot Springs graduate said.

Dailey, who studied art at the University of Leeds in England, brought in two of his pieces: “The Shadow Self,” which shows a shadowy figure emerging from a mist, and “The Nile,” a painting of the famous river that runs through Egypt.

Garcia, known as TAG, brought in some pieces too, including her version of one of pop artist Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe paintings.

Instead of using a paintbrush, Garcia completed her piece by kissing the canvas with paint on her lips to create the image of Monroe’s face. She said the kisses show that “part of the process of making (the painting) is a part of pop culture.”

Pantele said he would like to repeat the Incredible Artist Tour several times a year, and expand it to include other schools in Coachella Valley.

He said the goal is to show students “the possibilities of what happens when you explore your imagination or discover that you have one.”