Revere celebrates art from across district at annual festival

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Katharine Blackford

One of the many student booths featured at the Celebration of the Arts.

Katharine Blackford, Assistant Activities Editor

RHS plans to hold both in-person and virtual showings of  The Celebration of the Arts, RHS’s yearly art showcase, that all Revere students can enter works into.

Karen Smik, the event chair for Celebration of the Arts, has organized the event for nearly fifteen years. 

“Celebration of the Arts (COA) is a way to recognize the artistic talents of our K-12th grade district students, and the four-day event is a way to showcase their work,” Smik said.

Due to COVID, viewers can see the show both in person and online. Live awards ceremonies will not be taking place.

“Because there will be no live ceremony, award-winning work will be featured in a special slideshow on our COA website. [There will be] no student entertainment, no art technique demos, and no special Senior Citizens Day this year,” Smik said.

After students submit their pieces, the judging process begins. The proximity from the judging process to the actual show varies yearly.

“Usually, it’s only about 1 week prior to the show.  This year it’s 3 weeks prior to the show (judging was done on April 23),” Smik said.

In order to judge the pieces, event organizers find judges with a suitable background.

“We recruit nine judges, who are art instructors, art professionals, or have a background and experience in the arts,” Smik said.

Due to the variety of different mediums, judges separate into smaller groups.

“On judging day, they are split up into three groups of three judges each, and each group judges specific categories. [For example], one group judged all the RHS cartooning/illustration, drawing and painting entries,” Smik said.

When the judges’ small groups finish judging their categories, they converge again.

“After all the grade level/category judging is completed, all nine judges come together to select our ‘Best of Show’ award winner.  Members of the COA committee will be selecting the ’PTA Choice’ award winner,” Smik said.

For senior booths, judges go through a different process.

Judging for senior display booths is done separately by former Revere art students.  This year it will take place in the afternoon on May 17,” Smik said.

Robert Pierson, an art teacher at RHS, manages the senior booths.

“Since there’s a lot of empty space this year, it’s a much bigger venue and a lot less people decided to do booths,” Pierson said.

The seniors gather the materials for booths through a variety of means.

“Normally, we always had a lot and people shared [booths] and it got to the point where there wasn’t enough space for eight foot booths. Traditionally, [they are] 8×8 [feet] sized booths. People used materials that are either new or they might cobble together doors or used pallets. Some people actually have professionally bought ones,” Pierson said.

Last year, seniors submitted a video of a tour through their booths, due to COVID. Not as many traditional 8×8 booths were assembled, which means less  graduating seniors sold their booths.

“Last year we had a lot of really strong portfolios and the seniors weren’t able to even start or finish their booths. This year, I think everyone’s making [their booth] from scratch,” Pierson said.

Within each booth, seniors have full control of how they want to display their artworks.

“A student that has a booth on their own likely is someone who’s been taking art for 4 years and likely, they’re an AP art student, and possibly they have portfolios to get into art school. They could have up to 24-25 works on the wall,” Pierson said.

Not every senior displays the same number of works, as they can show however many artworks they choose.

“I’ve had kids who have had more than that, who’ve filled the walls and then had a folder of all their extra works and their sketchbooks. It could range anywhere from twelve works to fifty. We have students who are very productive, but not everyone wants to show all of their works. It’s entirely up to the senior how much art they want to have,” Pierson said.

While Pierson is in charge of managing the booths, the seniors assemble the booths themselves.

“Booths are a nice capstone to high school if you’re an artist, and also for parents to be able to help and be involved. A lot of the time, it’s the first time I’ve met parents while they’re setting up their kid’s booth. It’s a nice feeling,” Pierson said.

The construction of the booths themselves takes time and creativity.

“People often [ask] why we don’t provide the booths, but I don’t know where we would store them and part of the creative aspect of it is the making of it. I’d hate to mess with that,” Pierson said

Nicole Coveney, a sophomore at RHS, submitted a painted longboard with koi fish and lily pads into the Celebration of the Arts.

“All the hours together, it probably took me about 48 hours [and] with the varnish, probably 72,” Coveney said.

Coveney paints as a hobby and takes the Drawing and Design art class at RHS. Next year, she plans to take Painting as well as AP Drawing and Design.

“I paint a lot in my free time, but this was on another level. I decided to submit it because this is something that I enjoyed working on,” Coveney said.

Coveney considers her time spent working on her project worthwhile, regardless of any judging.

“Even if you don’t think you’ll win an award or anything next year, you should submit something because it’s a very fun thing to work on in your free time,” Coveney said.

The Celebration of the Arts will take place from May 17-20, 6:30-8:30pm each night in the RHS auxiliary gym.

“For those who are not able to attend the show in person, they will be able to view it on our special website, www.RevereCOA.com, starting May 17,” Smik said.