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SAAG in the News

Southern Arizona Arts Guild presents
Picasso through a child’s eyes
Published in the May 2017 Edition of the Oro Valley Voice

By Theresa Poalucci

In his book “The Elements of Drawing” (1857), John Ruskin 
encouraged artists to try to recover what he called the “innocence of 
the eye,” to represent nature with the freshness and vitality of a child. 
In 1907, the year Pablo Picasso first visited the Trocadéro museum, 
he traded a picture with his friend and rival Henri Matisse. The latter’s 
portrait, Marguerite 1906–7, was influenced by his observations of his 
six- and seven-year-old sons’ drawings. Picasso, according to his
 biographer John Richardson was, “very curious to see how Matisse 
had exploited his children’s instinctive vision.”

Picasso was fascinated by children’s art. He felt that his father, 
a professor of drawing, had prematurely pushed him into an academic 
style. Throughout his career he sought to regain the youthful 
exuberance that was sacrificed. In 1956, during a tour of an exhibition 
of children’s art, Picasso told Herbert Read: “When I was the age of 
these children, I could draw like Raphael. It took me many years to 
learn how to draw like these children.”

The Southern Arizona Arts Guild (SAAG) in cooperation with the 
Tuscan Museum of Art (TMA) have turned the tables and have 
asked students to draw like Picasso. These works will be presented
 in a special one day show on Saturday, May 13 at the SAAG Art Gallery. Six classes will be represented; two from Thornydale Elementary; one from Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary; and three from Walter Douglas Elementary.

The seed for this art show was planted when Melissa Rogers met her neighbor Eileen Starr. Rogers, who is a jewelry artist and on the board of SAAG found she had a lot in common with Starr, a fiber artist. Besides their shared love to create, both are great communicators. Starr shared that she taught classes on art to elementary students as a docent for the TMA. Rogers, who is always looking for ways to spread the word about SAAG and its gallery had an idea ­— and the student art show was born.

“When I am in a classroom of 5th graders I always Starrt by asking them, by a show of hands, if they like to draw. Usually about 75-percent will raise their hands,” said Starr.

Starr starts her art lesson on Picasso with his early years, explaining his blue period and how his works changes as it becomes cubist and more surreal.

“Picasso was an interesting character,” laughed Starr, who said she leaves out the more sorted details of his life. “What I explain is Picasso and his relationship to the founding steps toward abstraction. How he would look at something, take it apart and then reconstruct it.”

Picasso’s Cubist works approach abstraction, although he never relinquished the objects of the real world as subject matter so was not thought of as completely abstract in his style.

The students get to see Picasso’s self-portrait and similar pieces where he depicts a face in two directions, or orientations, in the same painting. 

If you take a look Picasso’s portraits, from the time he was young to his last, at age 90, you can see the distinct progression of his art. However the artist was quoted as saying “The different styles I have been using in my art must not be seen as an evolution, or as steps towards an unknown ideal of painting. Different themes inevitably require different methods of expression. This does not imply either evolution or progress; it is a matter of following the idea one wants to express and the way in which one wants to express it.”

Certainly, the students who are asked to use a different method of expression by emulating Picasso in his later years must learn to set aside convention to express themselves. 

“In the beginning the students seem a bit apprehensive,” explained Starr, who walks around the classroom and encourages the young artists to think outside the box. “I tell them things like, if you always wanted to have green hair but your parents say no, put it in the picture. They really get into it, and by the time they are finished they seem to have a good grasp of the styles of surrealism and abstraction in art.”
Along with using arbitrary colors and placing one’s nose in an unusual spot, the students must also create a pattern in their piece, as Picasso did. It is not random drawing, but rather well thought out to meet the demands of the style they are asked to reproduce.

“I get so much satisfaction in doing this work,” explained Starr 
who visits about 20 classrooms in eight schools, four times a 
year on behalf of TMA.

“SAAG is so excited to give some of these students an opportunity 
to display their work in a gallery,” said Rogers. “Many of our 
members are art teachers themselves and they were thrilled
 with the idea of sharing student work with the public.”

Along with the gallery presentation, SAAG artists will be 
demonstrating several forms of visual art. The TMA will also have 
tables in and outside the gallery offering children’s crafts. SAAG 
will also feature several of their workshop artists who offer 
opportunities at the gallery to learn new art techniques or the 
chance to make a project.

“A show like this can help introduce more people to art, looking 
at and talking about it,” said Starr referring not only to parents but 
the general public as well. “I hope it helps to spark a conversation 
about understanding the value that art has in all of our lives.”

If you go: The Southern Arizona Arts Guild Gallery is located 
at 7119 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85704. It is behind Whole 
Foods and can be reached by taking the walkway next to Sauce. 
On Saturday, May 13 the gallery will be open from 10 am to 
6 pm for both the special show of student work, as well as free 
arts and crafts for the kids, and art demonstrations for adults. 
The event is free to the public. For more information visit

Art by Adriana, a student at Thornydale Elementary in Mrs Scalpone’s class
Art by Allegra de Spain, at Thornydale Elementary in Mr. Scott’s class.
Art by Litzy Guerrero, at Thornydale Elementary in Mr. Scott’s class.
Art by Issik Fisher, at Thornydale Elementary in Mrs. Scalpone’s class.
Art by Emily Larson, at Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary in Mrs. Stewart’s class
To the right is a self-portrait Pablo Picasso did of himself in 1938 when he was 56 years old. Picasso did a number of self-portraits and if you see them all at once there is a striking difference in the styles. 
Be a part of the local art scene
Attend Art & Wine Reception at SAAG Gallery
By Theresa Poalucci

The public is invited to visit the Southern Arizona Arts Guild 
(SAAG) Gallery on Friday, September 15 from 5 to 8 pm, when 
three artists, new to the gallery will be featured. There will be 
complimentary treats donated by Gourmet Girls Bakery Bistro 
(which specializes in gluten free treats) and Frost - A Gelato Shop. Wine has also been donated by Splendido at Rancho Vistoso.

The featured artists for this event are Susan Allen who specializes
 in Gemstone Jewelry, Robin Chlad who handcrafts Clay 
Creations, and Becky Zimmerman who uses textiles to make 
usable art and also develops art using mixed media. She is 
also a “Cat Artist.”

Allen has developed designs for her jewelry that combine gems of different sizes, texture and color to create visually stunning pieces of wearable art. She also volunteers on the SAAG board, sharing her expertise in marketing to benefit the nonprofit organization.

 “I have been a jewelry artist for 5 years,” said Allen. “This was 
the evolution of my career as a graphic designer/brand marketing 
consultant for the past 20 plus years. The creative process is 
always exciting for me and I see designs everywhere — clouds, 
the mountains, flowers, and all over the desert as I ride my 
horse in the Catalinas.

At the reception, Allen is debuting her new trademarked line of 
“Sniffer” essential oil diffusing jewelry.

Artist Robin Chlad describes her work as whimsical. She has 
been in the ceramic and pottery for 35 years, having started as 
a hobbyist in Germany and soon after studying to become a 

“I will be showing a number of gift items at the reception,” 
said Chlad. “From cactus spoon rests and ornaments to vases and 3-D ceramic shadow box wall art. 
I love clay and am continually fascinated by what one can create with it. 

Chlad also paints on canvas. She is currently 
exhibiting at the Dia De Los Muertos show at Tohono 
Chul showing now through November 5, 2017 and at 
the Jane Hamilton Gallery with some of her larger 

Becky Zimmerman delves in mixed media, and 
considers herself a cat artist. “I will have cat cards, 
prints, framed giclees, screen-printed pillows with my 
original cat art. I sew the pillows myself,” she said of 
what she will display at the reception. “I will also have 
my round ball pillows and some totes.”

As an interior designer for over 25 years, 
Zimmerman loves fabrics. She also loves cats 
and has taken in many strays over the years.

“I always wanted to paint portraits of my cats,” Zimmerman said. “When we moved to Tucson twelve years ago, I had the perfect opportunity to combine my two loves.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet these three artists, and also shop all the many artist items that are on display at the gallery.

 SAAG brings artists together to share in their creative endeavors. The organization’s gallery displays change every quarter as the over 200 members come in and out of the gallery. Shoppers can always find something hand-crafted and local.

The SAAG Gallery is in the Casas Adobes Plaza (7119 N. Oracle Rd., just down the walkway between Sauce and Fresh Produce). The Gallery is open during regular hours, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm. For more information visit
Jasper Spike Necklace 
by artist Susan Allen.
Glory Mosiac by artist Robin Chlad.
Stretching by artist Becky Zimmerman