By Rebecca Maynard
When Julia Young attended back-to-school night at Middletown Elementary School, she asked the principal when the art club met and discovered it hadn’t existed for several years.
“No one in the community had taken the initiative to take it back up, so a couple of moms got together to talk about forming an art club in Middletown,” Young said. “But we found out quickly as we talked to people that it was a huge void in the surrounding community and it’s evolved way past the Middletown Art Club.”
Thus the Traveling Art Club (TAC) was born, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing sustainable no cost arts programming, mentorship, education and supplies to the youth of Winchester City, Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Shenandoah counties. Young serves as its president.
A free program for children and teens called Investigation Stations is offered at Bowman Library in Stephens City on alternating Tuesdays and Fridays, and TAC hopes to soon include a similar program at Clarke County Library.
“Investigation Stations partners literature and art, and we have books that kids probably wouldn’t normally be exposed to,” Young said.
“We read a book, talk about the book, and do three or four art projects that pertain to the subject we just read. Sometimes we bring music and movement into it, because kids are restless and need to move around.”
A call for art is open to all Shenandoah Valley artists through January 1 for an exhibit called Artists of the Valley, which will be displayed at the Shenandoah Museum of Contemporary Art in Strasburg. Interested artists can sign up by visiting www.thetravelingartclub.org/artists-of-the-valley.
“We plan to have a reception in January and an opening event that will be open to the public so it really encourages community involvement in art,” Young said. “We’ve heard over and over that there’s a real need to involve the community at large in whatever the programming is that we offer. It means people other than artists are seeing their work.”
The community is invited to a free open house at 4:45pm on Jan 22 at the Clarke County Recreation Center to learn about an upcoming series of ”Unconventional Arts” workshops for children ages 5 to 14 that allows them to freely express themselves with art using unconventional methods and upcycled materials so that they are able to continue to experiment at home regardless of the availability of art supplies. Call the recreation center at 540-955-5140 for details and to register.
Young has been talking with a librarian who works at Clarke County High School about the possibility of doing something with their art program, geared toward learning how to showcase art. “We like the idea of students partnering with local artists as mentors,” Young said.
The TAC is also planning a partnership with the Barns of Rose Hill. For up to date information about activities and opportunities, visit www.thetravelingartclub.org or visit their Facebook page.
The organization is grateful to Bank of Clarke County and Sheetz for their sponsorship. Local businesses can sponsor at different levels, and individual donations are welcome and are tax deductible.
“When you donate, you enable our founders and board members who are all actively invested in their community, all in the trenches of our local education system, to enrich the local community through art,” the TAC says. “Imagine a world in which our children are encouraged, excited, and able to explore all sides of their artistic abilities in a safe space. The Traveling Art Club aims to provide this safe haven for the youth of the Frederick, Clarke, & Warren Counties as well as the surrounding areas.”