By Ken Williams | Editor
Timken’s Orange & Black Ball helps fund museum’s Creative Choices program
Children sent to juvenile hall face an uncertain future, their lives hanging in the balance, their schooling disrupted and their path ahead filled with the great unknown. But some children are finding refuge in art, thanks to an innovative program sponsored by the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
Elizabeth Washburn, an artist and art instructor who runs Timken’s program for at-risk children, sees first-hand how art can make a difference. She told San Diego Uptown News that “this program does not change lives, but it enhances lives.”
“This program provides new approaches to learning through the arts that deviate from traditional classroom settings and uses English language arts, mind-mapping and brainstorming activities, which helps them to come up with multiple approaches to strengthen their abilities to think more critically,” Washburn said.
“The program and activities also provide great therapeutic benefits and builds confidence,” she added.
The Creative Choices program is made possible through the generosity of Timken’s patrons, who raise money through events like the annual Orange & Black Ball. The black-tie, masquerade-optional gala at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 in Balboa Park will celebrate Timken’s 50th anniversary. The ball will be held in conjunction with a second celebration, the Timken After Dark Cocktail Party.
“By attending the Orange & Black Ball, patrons are not only supporting the Timken Museum of Art, they are supporting arts education in schools and juvenile hall. They are supporting arts education in many different venues,” said Megan Pogue, the museum’s general manager.
“The ball is helping ensure that we can continue to provide resources, within the museum and beyond, free of charge. This allows us to make a continued impact in our community.”
Admission is always free at the Timken, which means a lot to folks who are on fixed incomes or are economically disadvantaged.
“We believe that art should not be behind locked doors or limited to the elite. It is at the heart of the Timken’s mission to be able to provide access to art to all audiences. We have always opened our doors to the public free of charge so that as many people can enjoy our collection as possible,” Pogue said.
“This idea of artistic stewardship spans beyond the four walls of our museum. We are devoted to bringing the arts into the community, to those who may not be able to go to the museum or to those who may not have been exposed to the arts before.”
Timken’s arts education and outreach programs extend beyond juvenile hall and include art experiences for the military and their families as well as seniors in nursing homes.
“Art speaks to people in a number of different ways. In the case of our Creative Choices program, we are providing the only way the youth in juvenile hall can receive art credit for their GED,” Pogue said. “Outside of the educational requirements, this program provides these youth an opportunity to break the story that they have been told their whole life. It allows them to explore a different way of thinking and prove to themselves that they are not the mistakes they have made in the past.
“When these kids live in an environment that is constantly telling them that they are not worthy, art allows them to express who they are in a safe, accessible way. The kids walk away from this program with a better understanding of themselves and a greater chance of breaking the cycle of incarceration,” Pogue said.
Washburn, the art instructor, plays a big role in opening eyes to different possibilities and introducing troubled children to new things. She recalled the time when a group of girls from the juvenile system were sent to the Timken for a field trip.
“The kids had never been to Balboa Park before and it was an eye-opener for them,” she said. “It was as if they did not know this world existed and they could be a part of it. One of the kids brought her family to Balboa Park after she got out of the juvenile system.”
Some girls also looked up to Washburn as a different kind of role model, she said, noting that her own background was much more privileged. Washburn said that by working with these children, she has recognized how fortunate her upbringing was and feels the need to give back to society.
“Overall, the program provides avenues for success and a school for them,” Washburn said. “Stereotypically, these kids are not high academic achievers, but the program and arts helps them be successful. … It gives them the option to learn through the arts as opposed to through a textbook. … The arts are a tremendous vehicle for learning.”
For Pogue, the Creative Choices program is part of what makes the Timken a special place. As the patrons celebrate the golden anniversary at the Black & Orange Ball, folks will be reflecting on where the Timken is heading in the future.
“The Timken is in a very exciting place right now. Our 50th year is truly a golden anniversary and we celebrate the museum’s achievements and its impact on the San Diego community,” Pogue said.
“At the Orange & Black Ball, guests will be able to view the museum’s new acquisition, the first purchase the museum has made since 2005. We also are launching a new capital campaign to make renovations to the museum to bring the building into the 21st century. In addition to this, we look forward to continuing our dynamic art education and outreach programs that will serve the San Diego community for the next 50 years.”
It seems so appropriate, then, that upon arrival, gala patrons will stroll through art installations created by students of the museum’s Creative Choices program.
—Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and Mission Valley News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at KenSanDiego, Instagram account at KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.