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Published: Tuesday, 2/16/2010

Perrysburg High art room given touches of the classics

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Alyssa Caris, left, Carly Toepfer, and Scott Brummel show off some of the sound-absorbing panels they have decorated with paintings modeled after masters. Alyssa Caris, left, Carly Toepfer, and Scott Brummel show off some of the sound-absorbing panels they have decorated with paintings modeled after masters.
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An art project at Perrysburg High School pays homage to Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael - the Renaissance-era artists, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Inspired by an assignment to transform commonplace objects into art, a trio of students are painting big, bold strokes onto sound-absorbing panels, replacing the "institutional beige" with eye-catching color.

Senior Scott Brummel came up with the idea to take down the panels (with permission from the principal, of course), paint them, and then return them to the walls for permanent display in the art room.

So far he has painted three, and he is working on a fourth.

Each panel features a famous work, such as by prominent American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, who studied at Ohio State University.

Other panels include Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and Andy Warhol's pop-art "Campbell's Soup Can." Scott is now working to paint Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist" onto one of the panels.

To give his project some extra personality, Scott has lettered quotes from each artist onto the panels.

The quotes emphasize what each of the famous artists brings to the art world, said art teacher Lynne Barefoot.

Near the tomato soup can, Warhol's quote proclaims, "If you don't think about it, you're doing it right."

In swirls of clouds on the "Starry Night" panel, Van Gogh's directive wraps around the famous scene: "If someone tells you you can't paint, just keep on painting and their voices will go away."

Scott began painting and creating art in his sophomore year, when he wound up in art class because of a scheduling error on his part.

The error, however, has him hooked on art and he plans to be an art teacher.

The other two panel artists are seniors Alyssa Caris and Carly Toepfer, who said they wanted to feature the portraits of the four Renaissance-era artists.

Those panels will be displayed in the front of the art room, the students said.

The reason is fairly obvious, said Carly.

"Well, it's an art room. It has to have more art on it to brighten up the room," she said.

Re-creating masterpieces is a good way to remind students about the artists who have made a lasting impression in the art world, Scott said.

"Starry Night," for instance, is one of the best-known images in modern culture as well as one of the most replicated.

"This is art that people recognize when they see it," he said.

Mrs. Barefoot noted that other students, when assigned to give a found object a new purpose, painted chairs, LP records, bottles, or other common items found in attics or garages.

"Scott thought, 'Why not paint the acoustic panels?'•" she recalled.

Alyssa, who plans to major in art education in college, and Carly, who wants to be a tattoo artist, have completed Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, using only black and white acrylic paint - buckets of it.

The acoustic panels, covered in a canvas-like material, soak up paint.

"We had to do a lot of layering," said Alyssa.

Added Carly: "We coat a brush with paint and we get two strokes." Then they have to put more paint on the brush.

Next up are the other two artists whose names were borrowed by a couple of ninja turtles.

"Donatello and Raphael are coming soon," said Carly, noting that the 8 by 4-foot panels fit perfectly into her father's truck.

The students work on the panels after school at their homes.

"We were working in Alyssa's garage but it got cold," said Carly, so the girls moved their makeshift art studio to a room at Carly's house.

Each panel takes 10 to 20 hours of work, the students said.

Other students have noticed the panel project, and now others want to get involved, Mrs. Barefoot said.

"It is an exciting thing to watch. It really has taken off more than expected. It is all good," she said.

"It shows kids have no limits to what they can do," she added.

There's a bonus to the portrait project featuring the Renaissance artists: Students are reminded that before Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael were famous heroes on the half shell, they were famous artists.

And, too, Mrs. Barefoot said, it's good to note to a roomful of art students that the creators of the popular ninja turtle series are now multimillionaires.

Now that's turtle power.



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