Jack Knight - Community Art Programs…
How i got involved & my vision for the endless possibilities to share art within communities.
A number of years ago I did a painting class at Michaels for a group of children from the former Halcyon transitional living program in Anaheim. I was also able to provided them with art supplies through generous donations from Chartpak and Grumbacher, which I had a prior relationship with, so the children in the facility had the opportunity to explore art on their own.
This was initiated and funded through the efforts of Keith Olesen and the residents in the Anaheim Colony. Following this project Keith Olesen and the Colony residents introduced me to the GOALS program.
I was given a grant through the Picerene Foundation to provide an after school art program at two very low income and poorly preforming schools in Huntington Beach and in Placentia. also provided a summer program at La Palma Park in Anaheim, which at the time was home to one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in Orange County. One thing I realized is that a lot of these kids do not venture outside their neighborhoods for a variety of reasons from a lack of transportation to gang affiliations and other issues.
As I had previously done with the elderly and the developmentally disabled, and since it was coming up on Easter, I set up a number of number of Egg Painting events at various senior centers around Orange County and at the VA. We went to Tustin, Orange, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, San Clemente, Long Beach and others. The idea was, and still is, to mix groups that would not normally come in contact with each other in shared creative endeavors and to create a greater sense of community. Another equally important point was to just have fun painting! Through the Director of the San Clemente Senior Center I also hosted painting events at local facilities for the developmentally disabled.
I try to bring music in as a part of of these events where I can. The Egg paints had a Jazz Band thanks to Craig Bohart and our friends from the Musician's Union, and a wonderful harpist Gabriela, who is very good with children and seniors.
I continue to do egg painting events, and held five egg painting events during 2022. We painted over 500 eggs on Center street in Anaheim and again at the Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo.
Another seasonal themed painting event i started was “the gingerbread paint”. This was held at Ponderosa Park in Anaheim. This park had bad gang and drug issues at that time but is improving. We invited in numerous groups and kids from those living in facilities, foster care, big brothers and sisters, boys and girls clubs, and numerous others to participate in this unique event for that area.
I continue to do the gingerbread painting, bells, snowflakes, and more winter themed painting events at the Nutcracker Tree Lighting and Holiday Village in Downtown Anaheim and the Annual K&A Catering Community Christmas Eve Brunch. This free event allows the community to enjoy fabulous food, fun activities, a visit from Santa, the Anaheim Fire Department, entertainment, and gifts for children. This event grows every year and the painting opportunity I provide is very popular!
I had children in my programs participating in the Anaheim Halloween Parade. I started providing a free painting activity at the fall festival portion of this nearly 100 year Anaheim Annual event.
Pumpkin painting was very popular so I started quite a number of pumpkin painting events around Orange County, and as far away as Santa Rosa.
Several years ago I meet Debbie Herman, the Director of the Miss Anaheim Beautiful Scholarship Program. This program is based on Community Service. Since that introduction, her young ladies have been the core volunteers at most of my recent events.
In partnership with Debbie Herman, we started Annual Pumpkin Painting Contests. This provided the opportunity for us to go out into the community to different schools, nonprofit organizations, and create events to sit down to facilitate the painting of pumpkins with a variety of youth and adults from various backgrounds and demographics.
When COVID hit I had to adapt to keep my passion for teaching art going. I started doing free online classes for children and adults. These classes were attended on Zoom by different schools, programs for the developmentally disabled, seniors and anyone eager to take part. I continue to do a weekly class the participants in the “My Day Counts” program and anyone who wants to join this experience. This unique class currently has over 30 participants every week to engage a variety of demographics and abilities.
Rubber Duck painting events and contests have had people of all ages painting ducks and placing them in Public places for several years. These events and contests were modified to keep them going during the pandemic. As COVID began to wane, I started doing COVID compliant Duck painting events in various locations out and about in Orange County. Even the Consul General of Pakistan painted a rubber duck! I arranged for Miss Anaheim Beautiful to join my Duck Painting outreach with a visit to the consular offices in Los Angeles to placed a special duck and recognize his participation.
We also created an Art exhibit as a Tribute to honor Health Care Workers that featured pieces created by different artists and community groups. These included My Day Counts, the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim, students from Oak View Elementary School in Huntington Beach, Anaheim Beautiful youth and adults, and others. We moved this show around to different locations in the County. We still have four different pieces of Art work on the street in Mission Viejo near the entrance of Mission Hospital.
In conjunction with the Muzeo I helped organize a community Art Day. This brought people together to show off their creativity and express appreciation for the free Community Clinic that opened in the Ponderosa Park area in Anaheim by Providence Healthcare. It now proudly displays the community artwork that was created at this event.
One of the most recent art projects, currently on display on the corner of Broadway and Anaheim Boulevard in Anaheim, is a large letter “A” for Anaheim. This piece is made up of various wood pieces painted at the 2022 children’s art festival. Children of all ages and adults selected a shape and painted anything they wanted to express their creativity… with encouragement to create some thing that represents what makes Anaheim a great place.
All of these “puzzle pieces” were glued to the “A” when they were finished and you could see the project come to life right at the event. To date, this is one of the most collaborative art pieces involving people from all over Orange County. This was also a test for additional projects I am interested in, which is creating more art in public places for everyone to enjoy. It was very well received by the community and all that stop by this project take a look to see what it’s all about.
I have painted so many different things in various places with different groups. It is impossible to list them all. This is a short summary of some of my favorite projects, the diversity, and out reach. I look forward to being involved in projects throughout various cities and sharing my passion for art. It’s amazing how art can bring people together and truly make a difference!