Lakewood OH

Students paint a picture of ‘Art in Action’

Wade Douglas gets his game face on before taking his turn at the canvas during "Art in Action." (West Life photo by Sue Botos)


By Sue Botos

Rocky River

Local artist Augusto Bordelois is usually meticulous about his craft.

On his website,, he compares his work to his bricklayer neighbor. “I take care of the priming of my canvas, the background layers, the texture, composition and colors as good as he takes care of the foundation, structure, vertical levels and cement mixture.”

But when it comes to leading a group of Kensington Intermediate School fourth-graders in crafting three murals as an “art in action” project, his advice is: “Turn up the music and just throw paint on the canvas.” Of course, dancing and funny masks assist the creative process.

The project kicked off last week’s annual Rocky River School District Art Show, which turns the halls of the middle school into an art gallery, showcasing the works of students from preschool to high school seniors.

Traditionally, the fourth-graders complete a large-scale art project for permanent display at Kensington during class time. But this year, PTA member Laura Lazzaro, who organized the event along with Monika Nuss, said they were looking for something a little different. “This is the first year we’ve done something like this,” Nuss said, noting that the students were creating their work as part of the art show, instead of outside of it.

Lazarro said that students unable to participate will get a chance to add their creativity with an in-school project.

The groups of students took their turns throughout the opening night of the show, the impromptu wrestling room studio, adding their individual touches to three murals. But it wasn’t as easy as just adding paint. Bordelois gave the students Mardi Gras-like masks to obscure their vision, armed them with paint and a brush, then spun them around so they relied on the shouts of classmates to reach the canvas.

“It’s really hard to see,” Wade Douglas said as he tried to paint “a summer day” with his favorite color of blue.

Bordelois, a Cuban-born artist with a studio in Berea, was a natural choice for the project, according to Nuss. “When we went to talk to him, we were just drawn right in,” she recalled.

A teaching artist at the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (previously Young Artists of Northeastern Ohio) and the Ohio Arts Council, Bordelois says he enjoys working with kids from “preschool to age 70.” But he added that each age offers a challenge. For example, he said fourth-graders are “always engaged” and second-graders are “divine” with “superstar moments.” With high schoolers, “the more ownership you give them of their work, the better.”




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