Downey’s Stay Gallery sought to fill their void walls with childlike creativity and wonder by enlisting the help of local elementary and middle school students for their newest exhibition.
The exhibition, titled “See Me, See We!,” had its third show on May 2 for four elementary schools consisting of Gallatin, Imperial, Ward, and Williams.
Students were told to create an art piece of their choice, craft a title, and choose a selling price.
Mike Alcala, a Visual Arts teacher at Ward and Alameda Elementary School, encouraged his students to think outside the box when it came to price points.
“I had one kid who [when choosing the price] was like ‘$5 because I don’t want people to go broke’ so she was worried that someone was going to spend too much on her artwork,” Alcala said with a smile.
The children’s outlandish pricing added to the whimsical feel of the exhibition.
Some young artists listed their work for $1 billion dollars while some laid all hands off their art by listing it as “not for sale.”
The highest-selling piece of the night -and of the event as a whole- was a gray and gold abstract piece from a student at Gallatin Elementary that sold for $245.
Stay Arts, a non-profit organization directed by Gabriel Enamorado and Juliana Canty partnered with the Downey Foundation for Educational Opportunities (DFEO) Access After School Program to encourage kids and teens to pursue their passion for art.
This is the gallery’s second time hosting the exhibition. The first time was in 2022 and was held just a few miles away at the Downey Theater.
In an Instagram post, Stay Gallery described the exhibition as a way to “uplift the voices, reflections, dreams, visions, hopes and inspirations of our TK-8th grade students.”
Whether it be internet memes, video game characters, self-portraits or scenery, the parents looked upon their child’s artwork with a swelling sense of pride.
The children who attended the exhibition linked with their fellow classmates to gaze at their respective artworks with a sense of accomplishment and delight.
Efforts to keep a community involved with cultivated artworks from an interactive organization like Stay Arts is refreshing.
Seeing that Downey youths currently look around their city and find it depleted of any collective effort to encourage enthusiasm within the arts, the twinkle in a child’s eye, as they observe their school’s gallery wall means more than flaunting a piece of paper.
“I didn’t have this growing up,” Alcala states. “So seeing how impactful it [the exhibition] can be is really inspiring and definitely needed.”
The next show is on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stay Gallery for Old River Elementary and all Downey middle schools.