Williams Eye Works and Baya Bar have art on display by some very talented local artists: Michael J. Petrides School art students.
Both of these Staten Island businesses began showing the art earlier this spring. Customers delight in seeing mixed media masterpieces that show off the students’ art talents. A total of 40 students in grades 5 to 12 participated in the project.
“Since working at Michael J. Petrides, my talented students made the stars align, and we coincidentally were doing lessons that had enrichment potential,” Gerard Ucelli, the art teacher who led the project, said.
Michael J. Petrides School Art at Williams Eye Works and Baya Bar
Ucelli launched two partnerships in the small business community since he started working at the school.
Williams Eye Works, an optical shop in Castleton Corners, exhibits “Eye-Dentity,” a social-emotional based surrealist pop-art lesson. Here, middle and high school students chose onomatopoeia words, and infused them in a quadrant of eyes to express what comes to their minds when they think about those sounds. Onomatopoeia is the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it.
At Baya Bar, an acai bowl food shop in Silver Lake, “Good Choices, Great Times” is a pop-art statement that embraces community through the perspective of each participating student. Each student used their favorite song to create a dance party that makes them feel good.
“The point of that lesson is to show customers that when you make good choices for yourself, it creates a vibrant environment of people who respect the journey you’re on,” Ucelli explained.
The art-business partnership emerged out of a Staten Island childhood friendship. The business owners from both establishments, Anthony Centineo (Baya Bar), and Ryan Williams (Williams Eye Works), went to Staten Island’s Moore Catholic High School with Ucelli.
“We all graduated from the class of 2008 and have kept in touch throughout the years. Both Anthony and Ryan have been avid supporters of my talented students,” Ucelli said. “The three of us firmly believe that we have a responsibility of opening doors for our uprising generation and we want to highlight the tenacity of our youth when they put their minds to something from beginning to end.”
Michael J. Petrides School Art Students
Students primarily used a variety of mixed media to create their art. These materials included colored pencils, markers, oil pastels, and acrylic paint, as each of them are displayed on 8.5 x 11 card-stock paper. All the young artists were happy to participate in the program, Ucelli explained.
“From my point of view, I can tell when a student went to visit either store because they’re filled with gratitude when they see me the following day,” Ucelli said. “I make it a point to tell them that they are leaving footprints of early success in their lives and the more they persist through these lessons, more opportunities are going to come their way.”
The art will be on display at both establishments through the end of June.
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