Photo by Martina Paradiso
TK student Mila Paradiso with her painting.
Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) students proudly showcased their creativity in a chic art show in the heart of the community, with every single student given the opportunity to exhibit their work.
More than 200 unique mixed media pieces were on display at the â€śTopanga Elementary Student Art Showâ€ť in the Topanga Library Community Room. The event opened on Wednesday, March 29 with a special Artistâ€™s Private Viewing, where the youngsters enjoyed a celebratory flute of sparkling apple cider as they tasted the well-deserved praise for their efforts.
TECS art teacher Randy Butler, first grade mom Belle Millar, library staff including Ashley Abrams and Crysty Harding, and a team of parent volunteers came together to produce the event, which was attended by dozens of students and their families, neighbors, and other community members.
â€śWe all worked so hard to get it done, and are really proud of their work,â€ť Butler said. â€śWe decided we wanted to create using different textures and techniques, along with mixed media. Topanga students are naturally talented, and itâ€™s been such a gift to work with little artists who rise to the challenge.
Photo by Lara Hogan TK student Dakota Hogan (left) and Isla Cockrell (right) enjoy some bubbly refreshment.
â€śThe importance and impact of art is seen on their faces and in their self-expression, and this art gallery is how we share it with the community. We decided to allow this to be a sensory experience rather than a lesson. They enjoyed the process, and thatâ€™s what the real lesson is. I am so proud of what these students did and I am ever grateful that I get to help guide, facilitate and inspire them creatively.â€ť
In an exciting twist, an ABC News team turned up at the library as part of their reporting of how Cesar Chavez Day was being marked around the region, so the children were thrilled to witness the local news cameras capturing their event. And the show went ahead despite the young artists having to navigate the LAUSD strike action the previous week, meaning many of the final art lessons that had been scheduled to finish their projectsâ€”which had been several weeks in the makingâ€”were canceled.
â€śThe strike action meant it was a race against the clock to get everything ready for our opening night,â€ť said Millar. â€śThe kids had worked so hard on their pieces that we decided the show must go on. We really had to rally in the final 48 hours as we rushed to finish and hang the art of every single student. Weâ€™re all so very proud of what was producedâ€”a vibrant mixed media show and a wonderful celebration of creativity.â€ť
Art teacher Butler is one of the specialist staff funded by Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP), the schoolâ€™s parent-led fundraising body which collects donations from generous TECS families to pay for resources and personnel that LAUSD does not cover.
The school community is hugely grateful to the library staff for accommodating the young artists and providing a space where their work could be enjoyed by all Topanga residents and the wider public.
The three-day event also incorporated a presentation led by Harding, the venueâ€™s specialist childrenâ€™s librarian, who educated the students on the importance of Cesar Chavez Day, taking special care to uplift labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta who was the co-founder, along with Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association.
Peace, Love, and Music at the TECS Gala. The annual TECS Gala, one of the highlights of the schoolâ€™s social calendar, will be held on April 29 at the Topanga Community Center. This yearâ€™s event has a Woodstock theme, with local band Kummerspeck playing a setlist of 1970s rock, and DJ Heather Christie spinning tunes that will keep attendees dancing late into the night.
Photo by Jenny Atkins Kids enjoy the TECS art show at the Topanga Library.
The catering is being provided by CAKE, a non-profit based in South Los Angeles which teaches young people life skills through hands-on experience in the culinary arts and hospitality industry. Through the program, youth are empowered with confidence and professional experience to enter the workforce, and become ambassadors for health and wellness in their communities.
For tickets, which are on sale now, go to bit.ly/TECSgala2023, or search Eventbrite for Topanga Gala.
Variety Show Under the Oaks. The â€śTopanga Elementary Variety Showâ€ť takes place on April 16 at Will Geerâ€™s Theatricum Botanicum, with dozens of students participating in The Wizard of Oz-themed production, and performing on the magical outdoor stage.
The event will be emceed by Stacie Burrows, a musician and comedian who performed her show Bulletproof Unicorn at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the worldâ€™s largest arts and media festival, last year. TECS students, and some special guests, have spent months rehearsing musical performances, aerial silks displays, comedy skits, and much more.
The event is organized by TEP and the schoolâ€™s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) committee, led by Stephanie Polansky, and is open to all. Tickets for the Variety Show are available now at bit.ly/41viFI1.