NEWPORT BEACH : School’s Students Pour Hearts Into Art


First-grader Alexander Stabler’s favorite piece of art at the Newport Heights Elementary School Art Faire last week was a watercolor of pink roses against a swirling green background, similar to the French Impressionists.

Why is it his favorite?

“It’s mine,” Alexander said. “It took two weeks. I have never taken so much time to do one art project.”

The works of Alexander and 600 of his schoolmates were exhibited Thursday night for hundreds of parents, teachers and the public. The proceeds from T-shirt sales at the fifth annual event will be used to buy more art supplies.


In an era of shrinking school budgets, the Newport Heights Elementary art program rides on the shoulders of the fair and the teachers and volunteer parents who organize it, as well as the students whose works fill the walls.

“We mainly do this for the kids’ pride,” Newport Heights Principal Shele Tamaki said. “If they make something, we will show it off.”

Thursday night, the cafeteria-turned-gallery was decorated with finger paintings, paper cutouts, pastel drawings, papier-mache masks and even art done by the principal.

“This particular school really emphasizes art,” said Tamaki, who contributed a silk screen of a Japanese lantern to the show. She said that art demands that students pay attention to detail and understand the meaning of art.

Tamaki said that about a dozen parents devote time to help teachers with art classes that can be quite sophisticated. Students begin in first grade studying Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh.

Consequently, the classrooms are crowded with artwork throughout the school year.

“We do a lot of art here,” Alexander said. “They teach us how to do shadows and real neat stuff. It is real fun.”