On any given day, a peek into the classroom of Fine Arts department head Kevin Ball ’03 yields a slew of aspiring artists at work, crafting an amazing array of works.
Under Ball’s tutelage, Jesuit High School’s art department and the school’s art club, Don’t Feed the Artists (DFTA), are thriving.
Last month, four Jesuit seniors – Victor Bufano ’16, Jordan Lassiter ’16, Caleb McNamara ’16, and Tommy Shaffer ’16 – contributed to the student-organized Artists in Action charity auction in south Tampa. All four created original pieces specifically for this event. (View their art from the event in the photo slideshow at the end of this story.)
Their work was professionally appraised for minimum bid value, made available at silent auction, and sold to the highest bidder.
"This was a great opportunity for the guys to give back," Ball said. "They gained some exposure and learned valuable lessons. It can be hard separating yourself from the artwork that you’ve labored over. But as hard as that is, for these students to know their artwork is hanging in someone’s house or office or wherever, it is very rewarding."
About 300 people attended Artists in Action on Feb. 19 at the Anderson-Frank House near downtown, which is designated on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places. McNamara, who was one of the event organizers, said they raised more than $45,000 for the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay charity.
“It was awesome getting to share my work in that way,” said Bufano, who won five awards at Jesuit’s Celebration of the Arts last spring. “This was like our sport, like being out there in front of the crowd.”
“The experience was very reassuring to me,” said Lassiter, who contributed four works, including a mixed media picture of Bob Dylan and an abstract acrylic of David Bowie. “It showed why I like to do art – to see others enjoy it. I was pretty proud of those (pieces).”
Added Shaffer, who contributed three charcoal pastels: “It was exciting for me, and it was really pleasing to see how many people attended. I think it was a huge success, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.”
Artists in Action: Victor Bufano '16, Jordan Lassiter '16, Caleb McNamara '16, Tommy Shaffer '16
McNamara, who won five awards at Jesuit’s Celebration of the Arts last spring, contributed charcoal, watercolor, and acrylic pieces to the Artists in Action event, as well as one of the two live auction items – an oil painting of his father which he created during the event. McNamara has made such impromptu art before; during Jesuit’s President’s Dinner in September, he sketched the “For Great Glory” capital campaign logo.
Lassiter, McNamara, Bufano, and Shaffer also were among the many DFTA members who created the spectacular 12x8 foot mural for Jesuit’s annual fundraising gala, Gaudiosa 2016: An Evening in London. A montage of iconic London images, Bufano is pictured on the homepage working on the mural a few days before the Feb. 27 gala.
It was the second straight year DFTA had made such an impactful contribution to Gaudiosa. Last year’s 24x8 foot re-creation of the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice drew raves.
Also at Gaudiosa 2016, Rhett Broz ’16 and Justin Sanchez ’17 contributed portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII, respectively, adding authenticity and aesthetics of the event.
King Henry VIII by Justin Sanchez '17, displayed at Gaudiosa 2016: An Evening in London
"DFTA is all student-generated creativity that we love to show off," Ball said. "The Gaudiosa murals are just one way we try to do this. Next year’s Barcelona mural for Gaudiosa is already being discussed, and it’s primed to be epic."
Sanchez twice previously has earned first-prize awards for his art. As a freshman, he won a statewide hand-drawn poster competition from the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. And earlier this school year, Sanchez’s original design won first prize as part of an event sponsored by DACCO (Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office, Inc.) and MORA (Messengers of Recovery Awareness).
"Justin has this ability to knock projects out of the park,'' Ball said. "His success now is just a foreshadowing of where he can go at the next level and beyond."
Jesuit’s art department also is shepherding students into college art programs and possibly professional careers in art. Danny Kervin ’16 plans to major in art at the University of Texas; Victor Olaya ’16 is considering Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota; Devin Diaz ’16 applied to and is considering several art schools; and Lassiter is considering majoring in graphic design.
Calvin Scott ’16 has been accepted to multiple art schools and has a scholarship offer from Savannah College of Art and Design. Scott also contributed his work to the silent auction at Gaudiosa 2016, raising more than $500 for the school. Click here to view Scott's amazing scope of artwork, including photography, digital, pencil, ink, scratchboard, and paint, on his fineartamerica.com profile page.
Hundreds of pieces of the best Jesuit student artwork from 2015-16 will highlight Celebration of the Arts 2016, Jesuit’s annual arts showcase, on Sunday, April 10. The event features wall-to-wall displays of student talent in the Multi-Purpose Room, and a juried art show.
To view all of the winning pieces from Celebration of the Arts 2015, click here.
View a photo slideshow of images from the Artists in Action event below: