Blooming Artist mentors make an impression on art students

Master artist Allison Norfleet Bruenger and Truman Middle School eighth-grader Minori Ubukata show Ubukata's artwork at the exhibition.

Master artist Allison Norfleet Bruenger and Truman Middle School eighth-grader Minori Ubukata show Ubukata’s artwork at the exhibition.

As part of the 2015 Blooming Artists Project and Exhibition, professional artists served as mentors to local art students and collaborated on projects inspired by each other’s art.

The paired artwork is on display through Saturday, July 4, at the Clayton Fine Art Gallery, 21 N. Bemiston Ave.

After the master mentors and younger artists exchanged perspectives and techniques during the creative process, the project culminated at the opening of the Clayton exhibition May 29, the pairs gave presentations on their respective art. It is the second year the Blooming Artists have displayed their work through an exhibition at the Fine Art Gallery.

Created by Crestwood Elementary art teacher Marilyn Callahan, the Blooming Artists initiative is funded by grants from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and the Greater St. Louis Artists Association.

“She loves getting kids out into the community through art,” said Lindbergh Communications Director Beth Johnston of Callahan.

In the photo above, master artist Kyle Lucks, left, holds up a painting by his partner, Kennerly Elementary fifth-grader Camryn Korte.

Most of the 11 art students are from Lindbergh Schools, along with Oakville High School junior Juanita Johnston, who is paired with master artist Marilynne Bradley.

In addition to the artists depicted above and in the pictures, the pairings included master artist Tom Hunt and Lindbergh High School sophomore Lily Helmer, master artist Philly Johnmeyer with Crestwood Elementary third-grader Karen Bose, master artist Deann Rubin with Kennerly Elementary fifth-grader Anna Stetzel, master textile artist Diane Tessman with Lindbergh High School sophomore Hannah Scherrer, master artist Clark Willett with Concord Elementary fifth-grader Adelaide Goss and master artist Joyce Yarborough with Kennerly Elementary fifth-grader Sam Harris.

The older artists selected their student artists from masterpieces that were already created earlier this year, according to a news release. The master artist interviewed and exchanged techniques with the younger artist and then had three months to create their own artwork inspired by the student’s work.

Although the project is centered around Lindbergh students, Callahan invited art teachers from surrounding school districts including Mehlville, Webster Groves and Kirkwood, and Oakville High School art teacher Tom Lutz joined the effort from Mehlville. The Lindbergh art teachers participating in the project this year included Lindbergh teachers Katie Goedde, Laura Heller, David Early, Sandra Heine, Becky Hunt, Jack Schwab and John Worthen.

The project is time-consuming on the part of both the teachers involved and the artists, but is worth it, Callahan said, and it has been such a success that she expects it to grow to neighboring school districts and to multiple art galleries next year.

Callahan was the Lindbergh Schools Teacher of the Year in 2010. She has been employed at Lindbergh since 1988, since 1997 as a guidance-department secretary and before teaching at Crestwood, she taught art at Kennerly Elementary School and Lindbergh High School.

The Blooming Artists Project is not the first creative arts initiative Callahan has dreamed up. She opened the Hangar Art Gallery in the former Crestwood Court mall, which served as an off-campus art gallery and studio where Lindbergh High students could display their artwork before the mall closed. She has also overseen other arts activities at Lindbergh including the Reeve Lindbergh Poetry Festival, the Lindbergh Legacy Project and the 80th Anniversary of Lindbergh’s Transatlantic Flight.

Anyone looking for more information on the Blooming Artists Project can also follow the project on Facebook at

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