“You might recognize some of these kids around your neighborhood, and they’re not from some model agency or somewhere.”
New faces in Newhall – just another way that the ARTree is leaving a mark in Santa Clarita.
“We thought that is the quickest way to deliver a message that was important to this community,” said Bob Hernandez, founder of The ARTree.
His message: Art matters.
Take a drive down Railroad Avenue in Newhall and it’ll be hard to miss. Thirteen faces, 17 feet high and 130 feet long. It is the second in what’s planned to be a series of art projects to pop up in Santa Clarita.
“People driving by (will) start to understand what’s going on or question themselves, ”What is going on over there? What are these kids doing on the wall?'” said Roy Juan, a professional art director and ARTree volunteer.
The ARTree is Santa Clarita’s newest community arts organization. It’s made up of artists, performers, musicians, teachers, writers and community leaders. Their mission is to create a home where art, in all its forms, can thrive and inspire.
The latest ARTree project was inspired by a former tagger-turned-popular European artist who goes by the name of J.R.. His work can be seen throughout the world today.
“We got some kids together from the Newhall Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club and kids around the neighborhood,” Hernandez said. “We started with three kids actually taking pictures of the smaller kids. They actually took the pics themselves.”
Said Rebeca Solorzano, 15: “It’s exciting and unique because when your friends or neighborhood see it, you can actually say, ‘I did that.’ It was just me and two of my other friends. I actually helped out the whole wall, and that’s something that many people don’t get to say.”
Solorzano is one of three volunteers who snapped more than 1,000 photographs of Santa Clarita kids, 13 of which were chosen for the wall.
“And now we’re out getting dirty and having fun,” she said. “That’s what kids do. I have glue everywhere. It’s a messy job, but it’s fun. I’ve put wallpaper up but not this tall, and not with kids that I know. This is my own paper because I did this. My wallpaper is going up on something special.”
Dianne Foderaro is a founding member of the ARTree.
“I’m a person who usually dreams just out of reach, and Bob dreams in the clouds, and I always find that very stimulating,” she said.
Foderaro is currently serving as the education chair and secretary of the nonprofit organization. As a former elementary school teacher, she understands the importance of art education.
“We just like to reach as many kids as we can, and provide them with arts experiences that make them realize how important the arts are,” Foderaro said. “I think art education often gets the short end of the budget. We all volunteer our services (to ARTree) and no one is paid. We all feel very strongly that if you’re going to teach the whole child, you need to include the arts.”
The ARTree finished eight weeks of arts classes at the Newhall Community Center this summer. Affordable winter art classes will be listed in upcoming issues of the city of Santa Clarita’s Seasons magazine.
“It seemed like the answers to a lot of questions about bringing art to Santa Clarita (were) that we needed to start with the children,” said Hernandez. “And that’s when I thought: You know, we really don’t have any community arts centers in Santa Clarita. So we all came together and started doing some fun projects.”
To learn more about The ARTree and how you can get involved, visit www.theARTree.org.