by KJ Roberts
Visalia Arts Summer Program for children is underway with many classes still ahead for young people. Classes include drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and mixed-media. The summer session will conclude with the Young at Art Exhibition, August 3.
“It’s a culmination of everything done during the program,” said Michelle Goans, who has been with the program for over two years. She estimates the youth program has been in place since at least 2006 and is a part of the larger Arts Visalia program.
“A lot of the kids have gone on to art school, including former gallery assistant Gabbi Barnes, who started as a child, went onto art school, then returned to work with the local program.”
The summer art program includes between 60 to 100 students each year, with many repeat students.
“Some come here, when they want to or are able. The summer program is more intensive, but they can enroll anywhere they want to,” Goans said. The summer classes are between 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours, depending on the class, for five days a week.
“It’s such a core part of what we do … we engage them in the various parts of the art medium … they learn to be creative and use their imaginations,” she said. “It lets them think critically and we feel it expands their creativity.”
As school programs have diminished, this program has seen more kids attending, particularly post-pandemic, and especially participation among students aged eleven and older has increased. The art center actively works with area schools and receives recommendations from area teachers, as well as charter schools and the CASA (child advocacy) program. Cost need not be a factor. Scholarships are available to “anyone in need, no matter their ability or income; any child is allowed to come into the classroom,” Goans emphasized.
The commitment to providing art for area students is so strong that during the COVID-19 pandemic’s darkest days the center created mail-out kits and sent them to students, keeping them connected and involved with art.
“In 2020 we created a virtual gallery tour showcasing the amazing art our students created from our at-home summer art kits.”
The Young Imaginations Gallery is used throughout the year and allows students to see their work, offering a strong incentive and reinforcement to continue their artistic talents and study.
“They get to see their work in place at such a young age, which is super important for them … we really hope it encourages them to pursue art throughout their lives.”
“The hard work of the summer art classes culminates in our annual Young at Art exhibition featuring artworks by each and every student who participates in the summer program. Held annually in August, the Young at Art exhibit is always the most joy-filled exhibit of the year as students, along with their families and friends, have the opportunity to see their artistic creations presented in the professional gallery setting,” according to the website.
Contact Visalia Arts at:
The facility is located at:
14 East Oak Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291
Phone: (559) 739-0905
Wednesday-Saturday: Noon to 5:30 p.m.
The site is handicap accessible and admission is free.
Arts Visalia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that depends on the contributions of its supporters to continue to keep its doors open to the public.
• Provides a free community space that welcomes everyone to engage in the visual arts
• Provides arts education for all learners
• Partners with community members and organizations to promote the arts
• Offers children’s classes at an affordable rate and scholarships so that no child misses out on the opportunity to explore their creative talents
• Offers arts education classes, workshops and open studios for adults
• Maintains a year-round gift-shop with unique items crafted by local artisans
• Provides a space for local, regional, and national artists to show and sell their artwork
• Offers monthly exhibitions of diverse art and artists
• Hosts a free public First Friday reception to celebrate the opening of each new exhibit with the opportunity to meet-the-artist