VISTA — The fifth annual Vista Unified School District Festival of Art on Oct. 26 transformed Main Street into a gallery of paintings and an amphitheater of music in an event devoted to art education.
Every school in the district was represented with stands of art lining the streets of Vista Village Center. Musical performances went nearly without break at one of three makeshift stages, the performers ranging from choirs of elementary school children to professional sounding high school bands. An estimated 2,000 residents came out to peruse the art and watch the musical performances.
Some of the visual art pieces were performances, too. Several schools showcased students busy on works in progress.
“Actually, it attracts a lot of people because they like to watch the kids work,” Roosevelt Middle School teacher Kathy Lally said.
One of Lally’s students, eighth-grader Austin Johnson, has taken three years of art classes already and looks forward to more at Vista High School next year. “For me, I like art because it shows the way that you can express yourself with the colors and what you draw,” he said.
Incomplete works were the exception at the festival, however. Several teachers marveled that there were so many finished pieces of such high quality in spite of the fact that it is still early in the school year.
“What I love is it brings the community out or kids that may never ever get to perform outside of their school site, they get to come up with some of this,” event organizer Anne Fennell said.
“The beauty of art just brings everybody together,” organizer Rodney Goldenberg said. “It’s that one language that everyone is able to speak.”
The festival was born at a district arts task force meeting five years ago. The topic was promoting awareness of the arts in the community.
“We’ve always known that Vista has had a very strong arts program, but we wondered if the community really knew that,” Goldenberg said.
For many, the festival was a way of demonstrating that art in school is not expendable, but rather a fundamental part of education.
“The same section that understands music is the right side, the visual side,” School board veteran Dr. Steve Guffanti said. “And of course, the minute you start singing, you have to access your left side so you’re building that cross section. It’s one of the bases, I believe, of the research that says kids that do music do much better in school.”
“Art helps, I think, for them to be holistic learners and lifetime learners because they’re opened up to a variety of ways to express themselves but also to learn cross-curricular things,” Rancho Buena Vista Visual Arts Chair Doug Disney said. “They really understand history more, it helps their test scores, their communication, their understanding of different cultures of the world.”