The show - Art 4Schools Student Art Exhibit, hosted by the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch (ACFA) at Lynn House Gallery - presents the work of students from Carmen Dragon, John Muir and Turner elementary schools.
"If you get it on your clothes, it won't come out," said Elizabeth Dean, trying to remember the medium used in her small painting of sea, sky and sun. A consultation with a member of her entourage, initially also at a loss, came up with "acrylic."
Critiquing her work, Elizabeth pointed to delicate pink vertical strokes, and said, "I didn't mean for it to be a sunset, but that's how it came out." It will be a sad day when she attends a workshop on how to promote her art.
The optimistic tones of the works covered the walls, such as "Butterfly" by Hannah Ong, who is in kindergarten at Turner; and "Vase" by Brandon Rizzotto, who is in first grade at John Muir. Brandon grew graceful stems up out his vase and stuck on cotton balls and yellow and green bits of paper.
Outside, in front, across Prospects Way, Amtrak clacked by and left the river rippling. The lowering sun lit the back corner of the El Campanil. Inside, the loving light of Lynn House caressed the art and bounced back and filled the place.
Stunning black lobsters, or maybe shrimps, on thin white paper, broke the bright color parade and they curved with verisimilitude. One of the crustacean artists is Isela Alas, a fourth grader at Turner.
A knowledgeable woman, who refused to say her name is Donna and is "just helping out," said it's like looking down through water at them. Curved critters in the foreground were dark and large, and - giving a depth to the work - other critters were smaller and of a lighter grey.
Those sea creatures were rendered under the direction of Pearl DeCew of Turner Elementary. Other artists who came to the schools to teach are Trish Brown, Pamela Fisher and Dona Armus.
The artists were paid with grants from the Keller Canyon Mitigation Grant and the city of Antioch. Beginning in January, local artists taught pottery, dance, Chinese brush painting, songwriting and more. It's the second year of this ACFA program.
Entourages were photographed with the artists, including Zoe Parr-Therol, with her many siblings. She painted a brilliantly colored and striped and circled and twisty-lined rendering of a face with uneven features, exuding glee. Picasso. Zoe is in the third grade at John Muir.
There was a pencil on paper rendering of an old ship by Marco Sandoval, a fifth grader at John Muir, and a hawk in chalk on construction paper by Paola Macias, a second grader at Turner who caught the predator just right as it looked to its right. Chase Nairn-Howard made a furry owl. Jacqueline Dutt, in the second grade at John Muir, got shamrocks onto paper and displayed them. Was that bit of orange among the green a statement?
Outside, in back, on the brickwork, a table held juice, water and treats sans trans fat. Kids played tag. Others giggled at some terrifically hilarious joke. Next door the stately, decaying Hard House, its majestic lines showing, looked down on the artists and their followers.
Cooper Gardner, a kindergartener at Carmen Dragon, pointed to the pail he painted on the sandy beach. Ayla Miyasaka-Kasman, in the first grade at John Muir, pointed to her vase. Kaleal Kelly did a Matisse-like painting and Kayla R made a tropical fish. Robert Sisk did something bold and blue. Nicole Garcia, a first grader at Turner, rendered a classic bird - dark grey with red splashes.
School officials showed up at the opening reception, but the dignitaries maintained their dignity and stayed low key so the artists could have their day in the sun.
The show will be up until April 21. The Lynn House Gallery is located at 809 W. First St. in Antioch (across from the Amtrak train station). It's open during exhibits from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and admission is free.
For more information, visit www.art4antioch.org or call 779-7018.