87 new Artist-Philanthropists honored at Comcast Center

Shouts of "Mine's over here!" and "Look how big my picture is!" rang throughout the Comcast Center's brilliant 5-story atrium on May 19th as 87 young artist-philanthropists showed off the large-scale digital reproductions of their artwork to parents, teachers, and corporate supporters.


87 new artist-philanthropists honored at Comcast Center

Shouts of "Mine's over here!" and "Look how big my picture is!" rang throughout the Comcast Center's brilliant 5-story atrium on May 19th as 87 young artist-philanthropists showed off the large-scale digital reproductions of their artwork to parents, teachers and corporate supporters. Fresh Artists' Second Annual Student Celebration honored the artistic achievement and generosity of these talented kids chosen from K-12 public schools throughout Philadelphia's inner city.

Gary Steuer, the Mayor's Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia, was this year's featured speaker, addressing not only the children's artistic achievements, but also their roles as young philanthropists, "paying it forward" by providing art supplies to other children in their city through the donation of their artwork.

Comcast Corporation and Liberty Property Trust invited Fresh Artists to install the entire new 2009 Collection in the Atrium and have it on display for ten days. Honoring both companies' dedication to sustainability, the art show was installed on a green, 100%-recycled cardboard, portable wall-system provided by local design firm MIO Culture.

The Barnes Foundation was recognized with the 2009 Fresh Artists Award for their commitment to making art and art education accessible to the children of Philadelphia. A select group of Fresh Artists students have been working with the Barnes to interpret masterpieces from their collection, that will be digitally-reproduced and installed on the fencing on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the Foundation's two-year construction project. Fifth-grade artist-philanthropists Alice and Syeed, along with their art teacher Robyn Miller presented the Barnes' Director of Education, Blake Bradford, with this year's commemorative Fresh Artists poster.

The 40 selected young artists were treated to private tours of the Barnes Foundation out in Merion, where they were introduced to the Barnes approach to art history. Each chose a masterpiece to interpret in acrylics and oil crayon. Alice chose Cezanne's iconic "Pot of Flowers", and went to work!

This year, Fresh Artists acknowledged some of the founding professional partners who helped launched the organization. Professional photographer Jeffrey Totaro and web designer Nathaneal Pershall were both honored for their outstanding contributions to Fresh Artists. Jeffrey donates all the digital photography of both the children's artwork as well as corporate installations of that artwork. Nate designed, built and maintains the Fresh Artists’ website as a gift to the creative children of his city.

Art teacher Darren Umble, of Potter-Thomas Elementary School, presented the 2009 Inspiration Award to School District of Philadelphia veteran art education administrators Tessie Varthas and Emilee Taylor for their inspirational leadership and coaching of the more than 200 art teachers in the District.

The Volunteer of the Year Award for Passion was given to uber-volunteer, Nancy Wolff, retired art teacher from Queen Village's Meredith Elementary School, who has logged hundreds of hours behind the scenes, checking lists, calling teachers, delivering artwork, helping to build Fresh Artists. Nancy was honored with a gift certificate to spend a day at a bead shop, to everyone's amusement! Wouldn't a wildly creative person rather spend a day making things than at a day spa!

Fresh Artists wore their own artwork on their "front stage pass" name badge, which enabled adult guests to engage the children in spirited discussions of their creative work. The badges exclaimed, "I'm making a difference!" and acknowledged the children as the first givers in this unique circle of philanthropy.

The children also received a limited-edition t-shirt bearing their artwork, as well as a beautifully-framed Certificate of Extraordinary Artistic Achievement. The certificate was designed and donated by the celebrated children's author, David Macaulay, who used an interesting array of colored, torn paper as a border for the certificate, with a wink and a nod to "process," the underlying objective Fresh Artists supports with art supplies. Fresh Artists Advisory Council member Jennifer Braxton, of IKEA, graciously donates the lime-green picture frames each year. Chef John Gallagher, Head of Pastry Arts at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, baked and donated 600 Fresh Artists' signature palette sugar cookies for the children and their guests!

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