Grassroots art to benefit animals

Published 1:40 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Linda McCullough (left) works with Ren Leathers (center) and Louise Story on watercolor techniques. McCullough and Leathers have worked together to create fundamental art classes for the community with plans to later sell student artwork in support of Lennie’s Kids. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

A handful of would-be artists congregate each Saturday to learn, create and benefit the community.
Linda McCullough, co-organizer of the Grassroots Art Program (GAP), said she wanted to use her art background to benefit one of her favorite charities, Lennie’s Kids. She and assistant Ren Leathers plan to sell artwork created from art classes held each Saturday and turn over the proceeds to Lennie Rizzo to benefit the multitude of animals he helps on a regular basis.
“It’s been a dream of mine for years to do something for the Humane Society and pets,” McCullough said. “I’m an artist who’s been away from art… and so I felt this would be a good way to help.”
The program launched with a focus on watercolors May 7.
McCullough said GAP aims to attract novice artists and thereby heighten their self-confidence. Leathers said giving his artistic side room to grow has allowed him to feel better about himself.
“I don’t know that much about art,” Leathers said. “But I was at the ag center straightening up the room one day and was reading an art book there and it actually gave me a lot more confidence. [Being involved with this project] has allowed me to go from point A to point B.
“At point A I thought, ‘I can’t be an artist.’ But the gist of it is that anybody can be an artist. For anyone who feels like they can’t be one, we want them to come on out… so we can show them they can.”
McCullough calls the work students will create folk art because it’s not about experience, she said, it’s more about helping individuals find their passion for art.
“People like the story behind folk art – someone may have been through hardships that influenced their art and people like those stories,” she said. “Folk artists are technically untrained artists, but still we want to give them some tools and methods so they can have fun with it.”
There is no fee for materials or instruction. McCullough said she’s been able to bring in donations of art supplies they have needed.
McCullough has spoken with several local galleries who said down the road they would offer to host shows for them to sell the art. She said the price points would vary per project size starting at $25.
The group plans to meet every Saturday in the annex of the Congregational Church of Tryon from 9:30 a.m. until noon. Anyone interested can drop by informally throughout those hours, McCullough said.

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