Colorful paintings of animals, detailed portraits sketched in pencil, and still lifes of fruits and vegetables greet visitors of the Watertown Mall these days. The artwork comes courtesy of Watertown Public Schools students from elementary school all the way to the high school.
While artwork can be found around the halls and classrooms of Watertown’s schools, the annual exhibit provides a chance for student artwork to be seen by a wider audience, said Watertown High School art teacher Donna Calleja.
“This is the big exhibit — from K to 12,” Calleja said. “It is a wonderful celebration. I think it is great for parents and kids, and the whole community, to see the work we do all year long.”
The show focuses not just on the prettiest pictures, but on the breadth of work being done by artists in Watertown’s schools, said Magen Slesinger, the K-12 Fine, Applied & Performing Arts Coordinator.
“It’s not about who did the best work,” Slesinger said. “We want to show a sampling of all the projects they worked on this year.”
Art teacher Anna Lochiatto, who is in her final year teaching at Hosmer School, said she cannot include all of her students. She remembers who was featured in last year’s exhibit, and tries to make sure others make the show in later years.
In individual lessons, she tries to work on not just artistic lessons, but cultural ones, too.
“We learned about the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday,” Lochiatto said. “It is a happy day when they believe their relatives return to earth.”
Some of the pieces show a skull, which was a lesson in making a symmetrical face, Lochiatto said. Other paintings show full skeletons in different poses and outfits. The students studied how the body moves before creating these pieces.
Some of the elementary school pieces featured animals, but not just any creatures would do, said Cunniff art teacher Alison Lucas.
“Each year we pick a theme districtwide, and two grades do projects based on the theme,” Lucas said. “This year it was environmentalism. I chose to introduce the kids to endangered animals.”
She also showed the students the work of artist Dean Russo, who uses a variety of bright colors in his pieces. One of the dozens of panels at the exhibition featured paintings of a lion, a manatee, and a bird.
This was the 30th time the Mall has hosted an art exhibit featuring the work of artists from the Watertown schools. It started as a fundraiser for the Frank Peros Memorial Art Scholarship at Watertown High School, said Patricia Stenson, general manager of the Watertown Mall.
Stenson said she is happy to provide a place for student artwork to be seen.
“We are a community shopping center and we like to promote the community, and showcase the schools and the people in Watertown,” Stenson said.
People crowded around the panels to get a close look at the pieces. They also enjoyed refreshments provided through donations by the tenants of the mall. One tenant, the Joyful Garden restaurant, provided 300 freshly baked cookies, Stenson said.
The Watertown Mall is open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and the exhibition runs through Thursday, April 11, 2019.