Un Grand Merci to the Guidettis

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Mentor artists in our Visual Arts programs met at the Youth in Arts office recently to explore the incredible art materials donated by Pierre and Maureen Guidetti. We engaged in “plork,” a word invented by the artist Corita Kent who believed play and work belonged together. Experimenting as a group produced fresh ideas for using these supplies in the classroom.

The Guidettis founded Savoir Faire more than 40 years ago. The company imports beautiful high end art materials from Europe and sells them wholesale. After they merged their company with MacPherson’s, they closed their warehouse. Youth in Arts received four carloads of materials: more than 2,000 Fabriano sketchbooks, dozens of colorful gouache paint sets, paint brushes, beautiful graphite drawing pencils, large sheets of Fabriano paper in eye popping colors, professional artists’ markers, large classroom sets of paints and more.  

The Guidettis also generously donated materials to several other organizations, including the Creative Growth Art Center and NIAD Art Center in the East Bay, and the Canal Community Alliance in San Rafael.

“Art is really good for the world,” Pierre said. “I profoundly think it’s essential.”

This is not the first time Pierre and Maureen have supported Youth in Arts. When the coronavirus pandemic began and Youth in Arts was serving students remotely, the Guidettis donated dozens of sketchbooks and colored pencil sets to help. The most recent donation means students will use brushes that hold up to small hands, paper that doesn’t rip and paints rich with color.

“We couldn’t afford to buy this quality of materials for over 5,000 students,” said Suzanne Joyal, Youth in Arts’ director of accessibility and inclusion. “This is such an opportunity for students to really understand what it means to be an artist. With great materials you have a better chance of succeeding, and that’s the most important thing. We want children to love their art and to have materials that help them love their art.”

Pierre agrees, explaining that it’s somewhat similar to preparing food. It’s hard to make a good tomato salad, he explained, if you start with a bad tomato.

“For beginners… the quality of materials is essential. They want to continue and the results are rewarding,” he said. “If you have good paper and good color, you’ll make a beautiful mark.”

With the large sheets of colored paper, teaching artists plan to build lessons around the theme of “I am the Future and My Voice Matters.” The work will be on view at Youth in Arts’ free community celebration on June 4 from 11 am to 3 pm. You can also join us for our evening fundraiser, where you can dance in the street to live music.

“We discovered that the gouache could make wonderful mono prints, so we explored playing with how the paint would print onto the brightly colored papers and the different contrasts that it made with the exploration of shape, line and form,” said Risa Dye, one of the mentor artists who attended the open art studio. Risa is currently teaching Kindergarteners and 2nd graders at Olive Elementary School.

When she handed out paper recently, she watched her students spontaneously touch and feel the different textures. Children “have a very tactile engagement with the world,” she said.

“High quality materials hold up very well and they feel good. There’s a tactile and visceral sensation that comes with them that also says we respect this project, we respect your work and we respect the arts in general.”

On March 4, Pierre broadcast his Instagram live show from Youth in Arts! Visit @artsavoirfaire to watch the rerun and hear his conversation with Visual Arts Specialist Cathy Bowman. You can watch Pierre’s show weekly from 2 to 3 pm PT to hear amazing conversations about artists and the arts.