Traffic was backed up along Industrial Avenue on a recent Saturday as students and parents from Manatee Elementary School west of Lake Worth filed in to the Boynton Beach Arts District after a morning beachcombing for trash to recycle into eco-art.
Jennifer Robertson, kindergarten through fifth grade Discovery Lab teacher at Manatee was inspired to bring her class to the arts district after reading an article about environmental artist "Tiki Tom" Bazinet's "Trash to Treasures" exhibit last month.
Bazinet uses found objects such as hubcaps, sea glass, shells and driftwood to create eco-conscious environmental sculptures.
Along with co-teacher Jhanique Green, Robertson contacted Rolando Chang Barrero of ActivistArtistA Gallery and together they created a hands-on learning program, recycling beach trash into works of art.
"Rolando is wonderful," Robertson said. "He went above and beyond to create an opportunity for these kids to learn about real-life applications of recycling, sustaining the environment and creating art at the same time."
"Bringing the kids to experience art first hand provides an opportunity and a different conversation than I could have in the classroom."
"It's a chance for them to be inspired, learn about art and see real working artists in their studios, such as jewelry artist Renee Kemp, graffiti artist, Joey Cruz (aka Seez), and Stephanie Lee, who uses vinyl records to create new handbags."
"Tiki Tom and other artists see the potential in things and enable the kids to see these objects with a new perspective," Robertson said. "Where we might throw things in the trash, Tom sees art."
Robertson and Green divided the students into groups and local artists including Michael Kupillas, Dianett Doyle and Jackee Swinson gave demonstrations and worked with the children.
Cruz guided students' hands on the spray gun while creating graffiti art and quickly created signed caricatures of the students.
Bazinet used a glue gun to assist the students apply their found objects to a wooden manatee sculpture he created.
Combs, bottle caps, coral and almond seeds from the rain forest adorned the sculpture.
Lee, an upcycle artist, was explaining what vinyl records were and encouraging the students to be creative.
"Just use your imagination and you can make anything," she said.
Debbie Elliot, a teacher at Palm Springs Middle School accompanied her two children, Danielle, 9 and Jessica, 14, and Krista Martinelli, a writer, was there with her two children, Stella, 8, and Paul, 6.
"This is a great hands-on experience for the kids," Martinelli said. "And the whole arts district is very cool."
Student Danielle Elliot was excited to work with "Tiki Tom" in decorating the manatee and Stella Martinelli, who found turtle eggs on the beach and wants to be a filmmaker, said her favorite part was drawing Tiki Tom's sunbursts, made from recycled hubcaps, buttons and toothbrushes, in her notebook.
All the students made notebooks in which to draw and write down their inspirations.
Barrero, who put his heart and soul into his role as host said, "I was impressed by the level of participation from both parents and students. It was a joy watching the kids' excitement on the beach and in the tours of the artists' studios."
"Never before has the art district been so buzzing with the laughter and joy that only children can bring," he said.
The Boynton Beach Arts District is at 422 W. Industrial Ave. Call 786-521-1199 or emailRolandoBarrero@Mac.com.
Upcoming exhibits and events include: Sensibilities: The Photography of Ali Miranda and Cheryl Maeder and the Black and White Party at Saturday. The party is free and open to everyone.
The ArtPalmBeach kick-off celebration will be at BBAD from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jan. 24. To register for the bus tour from the Palm Beach Convention Center, visit artalfrescoboyntonbeach or eventbrite.com/e/art-al-fresco-boynton-beach-arts-district-tickets-9459671131.