The tables in the Brooksville Elementary School multipurpose room were covered with rows and rows of easels, each one holding three pieces of art. There were hundreds of professionally framed drawings and paintings on display Thursday evening for the school's first KidsArt Fair.
"This program is something my art mentor in Citrus County did up at her school," said Brooksville art teacher Laurie Enstrom, 50. She was referring to Inverness Primary School's Jana Flaherty, who attended a National Educators Art Teachers Convention in November and learned about the program.
KidsArt Fairs is a company in its infancy that collects student art, frames it professionally, and returns it to the participating school for display. The company, started by David Yun, who formerly worked with Scholastic Book Fairs, lends the school the easels.
The company offers the framed art to families of the young artists for $29.95 plus tax. Twenty percent of the profit goes to the school for its art department. Students whose families choose not to purchase the framed work can keep the art but not the frame. The company also provides an art fair coordinator.
Brooksville's coordinator was Janet Argenbright. She said the company is still growing and services schools in southeastern and northeastern states. "It showcases the schools' art department and draws parents in and it acts as a fundraiser," she said.
KidsArt Fairs provides the paper for the original art works. It provides promotional signs, invitations and assistance in planning, promoting and executing the event.
Brooksville Elementary School displayed more than 600 pieces of art from students in grades kindergarten through 5. Christina Lewis, 11, was a participating fifth-grader. "I drew a gator," she said. She liked the idea of the art fair. "I think it's good for people to show their artwork. A lot of them look really good. I think it's wonderful."
Christina's younger sister, Madeline, 9, is in third grade and drew a picture of a house on a river. She agreed with her sister about the value of the fair.
"I think it's wonderful 'cause lots of people can see lots of different artwork and they can see lots of colors and what certain people can draw," she said.
Ellen Lewis, Christina's and Madeline's mother, is the fifth-grade inclusion teacher at Brooksville Elementary. She was helping set up the fair for the event last Thursday evening.
"I think it's amazing," she said. "I've taught private schools all my life and this is my first year in public school and seeing so much art is amazing." She said she enjoyed seeing what her fifth-graders did in their art class.
Kathy Gates is the school's global writing teacher and she has been studying Greece with her third-graders. There was a lot of Greek influence in many of the drawings.
Her student, William Brown, 9, explained that he drew vases, which he pronounced with a short "a." "I drew vases (short "a"), which are vases (long "a"). They say vases (short "a") in Greek for vases (long "a")," he said.
William was helping to set up the art fair and was impressed. "I really like it," he said. "To show people what you drew, to see if they like it or not and see other people's paintings."