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Fox Grooms Artists-in-Training

April 21, 1998|BEVERLY BEYETTE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Although they know more about Fox's Bart Simpson than about Fox's Rupert Murdoch, the 400 youngsters visiting Fox Studios for a wrap party for their in-school storytelling program were all ears as the pretty blond woman--Mrs. Murdoch--said, "I hope one day a lot of you are going to be working here at Fox."

And, Anna Murdoch counseled the fifth- and sixth-graders, when the going gets tough, "I want you to remember this day when you were bubbling with enthusiasm."

Bubbling they were as they watched themselves on a video they had taped and narrated. Since September, students at six L.A. elementary schools had been at work on the video and had been painting six giant murals under the guidance of professional artists in a $100,000 project underwritten by Murdoch's Fox.

As the lights dimmed in the Darryl F. Zanuck Auditorium, and the video, "Eye of My Heart," started to roll, there was a glitch. No sound. "They shouldn't feel so bad," Anna Murdoch said later. "The first time I saw 'Titanic' here, it didn't work."

After a second false start, on the screen came images of kids eating pizza, kids with their pets, kids playing ball, kids talking about a shooting.

Then it was time for the young painters' moment. Gayle Gale, lead artist and project director, spoke of the potential of mural art to bring "peace and unity and beautification."

At each participating school--Grape Street in South-Central, Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, Barton Hill in San Pedro, Commonwealth in L.A., Huntington Drive in northeast L.A., and Erwin Street in Van Nuys--children worked under the direction of an artist-in-residence, inspired by a storyteller who told tales relevant to their cultures.

The other mentor-artists were Richard Godfrey, Alfredo DeBatuc, Richard Wyatt, Candice Gawne and Angela Briggs.

Was it fun? "Yes!" said young artists from Erwin. Albert Palacios, 11, liked that "it was part of our culture and we got to paint."

Murdoch said, "I think it's so sad that art programs get dropped from the curriculum" when budget cutbacks occur. "I think this is something perhaps that other corporations could do."

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