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The inaugural “My Kid Could Do That” benefit, reception, exhibition, and workshop take place this week in Los Angeles on April 6-8 at The Underground Museum. Co-chaired by Karon Davis and Kyle DeWoody, the multi-day benefit event raises funds in support of ProjectArt’s mission to provide free arts programming for children ages 4-17.
A major draw is the clever exhibition, featuring childhood artworks by 73 artists, including Doug Aitken, Catherine Opie, Jim Shaw, Diana Thater, FriendsWithYou, Barry McGee, Ed Ruscha, and more.
The first to take place in Los Angeles, a previous edition kicked off in New York last April. “The travail to fill the nation’s current void, where over four million elementary youth do not receive access to arts education in the U.S., inspires our mission,” said Adarsh Alphons, founder of ProjectArt.
“Arts education is not a luxury, but one of our most important teaching tools. It helps unlock hidden talents, uncover new passions, and inspire bold thinking,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a supporter of ProjectArt.
Whitewall spoke with benefit co-chair and ProjectArt Executive Board Member Kyle DeWoody about the upcoming series of events.
WHITEWALL: How did you first get involved with ProjectArt?
KYLE DEWOODY: I first got involved with ProjectArt when I met Adarsh, the director of the organization, at a dinner at Albert Maysles’ house in Harlem. We were seated next to each other at dinner and he told me about what he was setting out to do, to combat the disappearance of arts education by partnering with public libraries to provide free arts classes. I thought it was very ambitious, but if anyone had the enthusiasm, the energy, and the determination…
Now, only a few years later, ProjectArt is programming multiple classes in 44 branches in six cities across the country. There’s a lesson here, when we can’t rely on others to fix the current system, let’s create our own.
WW: ProjectArt is taking on a very large and important task by trying to keep the arts accessible to all children. What kind of access to arts did you have in school growing up? How important was that to you?
KD: I’ve been very fortunate. My life has provided all-access to the arts I went to good schools with rich arts programs. My mom is an avid supporter and collector of art and my father is an artist. Some of my favorite memories are as a child exploring my dad’s art supplies, papers of every color, prismacolor boxes with hundreds of pencils in every shade, or collaging boxes with my godmother on summer afternoons.
In later years, that environment encouraged me to approach every project with a creative eye, and gave me a thirst to create just for the sake of it—for the way it centers you, shifts you out of your head. Art is used as a therapy for a reason.
WW: Showcasing childhood artwork of successful artists is such a fun concept, but it also really shows people the importance of providing children opportunities in the arts. What kind of takeaway are you hoping viewers and donors will have from seeing the childhood work of well-known artists?
KD: Being fun was definitely goal number one with this concept. We wanted an idea that felt aligned with the organization’s mission, that was different from anything I’ve seen before as a benefit, and that would catch people’s attention. Who isn’t curious to see what Catherine Opie’s eye, for example, was like at age nine? But also, this exhibition reminds viewers that we all start off as children with our experiences and thoughts, and whether we are encouraged to express them makes a big difference. This is about more than arts education; this is about giving the next generation all the tools they can get to live a happy and productive life and contribute to the community in a positive way. ProjectArt has gathered the research that proves that the arts are so important in developing many of those skills.
WW: What are you looking forward to at the inaugural benefit?
KD: The childhood works will not be for sale unfortunately, the artists’ mothers would not have it, but fear not, we will have so many incredible pieces on offer to raise funds. You can get your portrait painted live at the event by one of our many talented students from the program. I just
had one of mine framed from a previous year. The auction will feature specially-crafted experiences, basically a list of my dream to dos, contemporary artworks from artists in the show, and statement jewelry pieces that are artworks in themselves. And then our shop will feature ProjectArt merchandise featuring great images from some of the students as well as beautifully done print editions from a selection of the artists’ works in the exhibition. So, while you will not be able to take home an original, you can own a very limited edition facsimile of the very earliest work of your favorite California artist. Visit Projectart.org to learn more and support this great initiative.