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Wanted: Local art enthusiasts

A new community art initiative is looking to match aspiring student artists with interested mentors -- with or without artistic talent.

ArtReach of Red Wing has launched pARTners, an art mentoring program, this spring. Its goal is to give artists and art enthusiasts an opportunity to share their knowledge with local high school students.

"They're less of an art mentor and more of an art buddy," said Emily Nelson, ArtReach program coordinator.

Each mentor will be given an annual budget of $200 for art supplies, mileage and tickets to performances and events to share with a student, Nelson said.

Mentoring will take place individually and at group events facilitated monthly by ArtReach, she added.

The program already has close to a dozen students, but only three mentors have signed up so far. ArtReach is asking for the community's help to inspire these young artists.

"We know it can be successful, we just need to get the word out," said Kristin Bray, an art teacher at Red Wing High School and ArtReach program assistant.

Ideal mentor candidates are those who enjoy art but are not necessarily artists themselves, Bray said.

Students are looking for guidance in a variety of media, from traditional 2-D art to sculpture and performance art.

They also have a range of interest levels, from Red Wing High School's Ben Huston, who said he wants to pursue art as a hobby, to Melissa Savage, who said she wants to make connections and explore the possibility of become a tattoo artist.

"I just thought it sounded like a cool opportunity," said Savage, who was one of the first students to sign up more than a month ago.

"They're anxious to get started," said Bray, adding that ArtReach hopes to match students with mentors before the school year ends.

The program was conceived last summer after ArtReach staff heard a desire from students to continue practicing art outside of school and ArtReach events, Nelson said.

Mentors will be especially helpful for students who are interested in art, but have parents or family members who are not, she said.

Prospective mentors must be at least 18 years old and pass a criminal background check, according to ArtReach. A mandatory four-hour training workshop will be provided.

The application asks for a one-year commitment, including four to six hours of mentoring a month.

ArtReach is a nonprofit organization that supports art in the Red Wing community through education and events, according to its website.

There will be a pARTners information night 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 2 at the ArtReach Studio.

For more information on pARTners or to apply to be a mentor, visit or call 651-388-1362.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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