Thomas Center displaying school district employees' artwork


Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

Keith Brown has been a custodian for Alachua County Public Schools for about three decades, but employees at the Kirby-Smith Center know him for another reason.

Brown is a talented artist, and three of his graphite pencil drawings are featured in "The Artist in All of Us," a Thomas Center exhibit showcasing the artistic works of public school employees.

"I enjoy drawing, and I don't get as many chances to as I used to," Brown said.

That's exactly why organizers decided to open the exhibit to all public school employees, said Debbie Gallagher, the district's curriculum specialist for fine arts, world languages, diversity education and elementary social studies.

It's important to stretch your creative side, and "just celebrate that part of who we are," she said.

A reception will be held for the show, which opened a few weeks ago, from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at the Thomas Center.

In past years, school art teachers have displayed their own work at the Thomas Center, but this year, they felt they should open it to the rest of the district, Gallagher said.

A committee of teachers and members of Gainesville's Cultural Affairs division met to select submitted pieces for the show.

In all, the exhibit includes about 50 pieces by about 20 artists who contributed paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures, mosaics, photographs and furniture.

Teachers from a variety of subjects are represented, Gallagher said. One of the featured works on the Thomas Center's website for the event is an oil painting of a nature scene titled "Whiskey Creek," by Mebane Middle School science teacher Diane Brody.

Although many of the teachers will be first-time exhibitors, Brown, the custodian, has shown his work in Micanopy, St. Augustine, Leesburg, Jacksonville and the Santa Fe College gallery.

"I've been in quite a few (shows)," he said. "But it's the first time I've ever been in the Thomas Center."

Brown's submissions include a 32- by 40-inch graphite drawing of retired Superintendent Dan Boyd standing in front of Gainesville High School, where he was principal for 24 years.

The drawing is based on a photo Brown took of Boyd in front of the Kirby-Smith Center in 2000.

"Dan has always been devoted to what he's doing," Brown said, so he wanted to give something to the educator, who retired from his post Monday.

A copy of the portrait was presented last week to Boyd.

Brown said it took him about a week to finish the portrait, which was drawn in 2000 and also has been displayed in the courthouse.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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