Art students at Watsonville High School have pooled their talents into a new exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts Porter Building.
“Wildcatz Art Show,” with the theme of “Who Are the Students of Watsonville High,” showcases more than 100 artworks, including painting, drawing, photography, print-making and digital collage.
Junior Jared Esquivel said he was happy to be a part of the crew hanging the show on Sunday.
“It’s definitely an honor to be here and have this chance to show our art and to show Watsonville what Wildcatz are all about and to show our identity,” he said. “And the instructors I have had, Mr. Brown and Ms. Webb, are pretty amazing. If you look around the rooms, I think the artwork here is incredible.”
On Sunday, photography instructor Golden Brown and instructor Sara Webb teamed up with students to fasten hanging wires and hooks to picture frames, measure out the wall space, discuss how to curate the wealth of art pieces and label them.
“One of my goals is to help get these students a sense of belonging in the community through their art, to make friends and make connections,” Webb said. “These students are also part of the careers in art academy, so they are learning about jobs and directions in art careers.”
Judy Stabile, professional artist and longtime volunteer for Pajaro Valley Arts, was also on hand Sunday to help hang the exhibit.
“We hope that shows like this, along with other events and exhibits here in downtown Watsonville are paving the way to an arts corridor,” she said.
She referenced the opening of Studio Judy G, the Watsonville Center for the Arts as well as dance performances, movies and other such events that coincide with the Certified Farmers Market at Watsonville Plaza on Fridays.
Webb said the show stems from the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act that states that all students in the United States are entitled to a well-rounded education including music and art. Scores of school districts were not meeting this requirement in California, so Prop. 28 was approved by voters last year. It reserves around 1% from the California general fund to expand art programs, with 80% of that spent on teacher salaries.
All schools started to get this money this year and some of the elementary schools in PVUSD have already hired art, music, dance or drama instructors with the funds. Watsonville High is planning to add more visual arts, music and dance courses next year, Webb added.
“WHS does not have as many course offerings in visual arts as Aptos High despite a lot of student demand,” Webb said. “I’m proud of my students for planning, hanging and promoting the show and hope we can keep it up every year.”
The students, grades 10-12, did the research, investigated and came up with the name of the show and its theme. Through the ethnic studies class at WHS, Webb said students “learn the stories of our ancestors, about our past, our family tree and collected stories. So they came up with a lot of portraits and symbolic self portraits.”
The student art show runs from Feb. 2-24. An artist’s reception is set for Feb. 2 from 4-7pm at 280 Main St. in Watsonville.