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MAKING A DIFFERENCE : Young Artists Learn to Draw on their Talent

July 18, 1994|Researched by CATHERINE GOTTLIEB / Los Angeles Times

Most California public schools offer some kind of art instruction, but students whose talent races ahead of the pack lack access to expert instruction, advanced materials and career guidance. Public and private schools faced with hard budget choices usually feel they can't spare the funds for gifted art-student programs. The Herbert D. Ryman Living Masters Program fills that gap, offering art students enriched instruction by successful artists and professionals in related fields. The program is named for the late artist who created the original drawings of Disneyland, when it was just a gleam in Walt Disney's eye. It is supported by Ryman's friends, relatives and the Los Angeles Children's Museum. Each Saturday, the students, selected by an expert panel, meet downtown at Los Angeles' Otis College of Art & Design to attend drawing and painting classes taught by professional instructors and by guest architects, designers and fine artists. More than 150 students from 68 Southern California schools have graduated since the program began in 1990. This fall classes will be relocated to USC's School of Fine Arts, where the students will have access to campus studio space, art facilities and libraries.

HARD TIMES FOR ARTS EDUCATION in the Los Angeles Unified School District:

1978 1993 Art instructors (K-12) 800 200 total number of students 584,000 640,000 students per art instructor 730

Source: Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department

Marco Menendez, 18, graduate of Grant High School, Van Nuys

"Being a part of this helped me to become more serious about school and becoming an artist. To be an artist you have to think, you have to study hard. You start seeing the relationship between English and literature with art. My grades got better, too. I'm going to junior college this fall and then I'll go to art school."

Mariano Friginal, 16, junior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles

"I took art classes on my own, but after a while I couldn't afford it. The best part about the training is that it's free--including all of the supplies. Because of the program my skills really improved and I have contact with other artists--my teachers and classmates. We talk and look at each other's work and we help each other. I get to learn about how other people think about art."

Nikki Anderson, 15, junior at Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks

"The Ryman students are from all over the L.A. area. I made friends who live too far away for me to visit, but we write. I didn't notice how diverse we were at first, but my classmates were Asian, Latino, African American. I was the only Caucasian student.

You can't take art all the way through most public schools. They had to cut what they think is extracurricular stuff. The reason I went to a private school was because it has an art program."

TO GET INVOLVED call (213) 687-0319.

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