After a long career as an Art Director for institutions like The New York Times, Sotheby’s, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I decided to bring my talents closer to home. For the past three years, I have been privileged to apply my graphic design chops in the service of James Oddo, Staten Island Borough President. Jim is a visionary who recognizes the value of good design as a tool for the messaging he employs on a broad range of life-affirming initiatives championed by his administration.
When Jim arranged for a collection of art works from 3rd graders at P.S. 50 to be exhibited on the walls of our main conference room at Borough Hall, I was delighted. Upon examining the pieces and the accompanying annotations by Mrs. Natasha Galante, the students’ Art Teacher, the project took on much more pertinence. Not only were the individual paintings and drawings remarkably executed, it was clear that the young artists were inspired by a well thought-out process of exposure to brilliant examples of master painters from three distinct schools of art. This was educational nurturing yielding extraordinary results. Plus, the kids’ pieces were joyful and beautiful, as well as carefully matted and framed. The obvious care with which they were created demanded that we give them the best possible display.
We would apply the same techniques that I used in ten years of designing fine art installations for The Met. The room was transformed into a genuine gallery space and the students’ colorful pieces looked positively luminous.
On Valentine’s Day, the kids and their teacher arrived at Borough Hall for their exhibition “opening.” They were welcomed by the BP and members of his staff. With obvious delight, the young artists gazed at their beautiful works and listened attentively as Jim expressed how happy we all were to share this experience with them.
Before taking questions from the kids, Jim asked several of his assembled staff to offer thoughts and comments. Recognition of the young artists’ accomplishments, plus the value of art appreciation in one’s life, was emphasized in each speaker’s remarks.
As someone whose very career was inspired and nurtured by a public school teacher, who was both wise and knowledgeable about the importance of art as an essential component of life and, in my case, a vocation, I recognize Mrs. Galante as that rare individual who can open the door that Mrs. Catherine Kaschur opened for me as my high school art teacher.
Three cheers for Mrs. Galante, and three cheers for these kids!