Whale watching, tall ship field trip provides motivation for student entries in Festival of Whales art show and logo contest
By Andrea Swayne
Experience is the greatest teacher and once again Dana Point Festival of Whales organizers offered local high school art students an inspirational field trip meant to get their creative juices flowing and motivate them to share their talents with visitors to the 42nd annual event.
Ninety students on January 9 from the advanced art classes at Dana Hills High School’s South Orange County School of the Arts, or SOCSA, were given a trip aboard a Dana Wharf Whale Watching vessel Dana Pride followed by a tour of the tall ship brig Pilgrim at the Ocean Institute.
The trip served as motivation for artwork the teens are creating to display at the Art in the Park exhibition during the Festival, as well as the upcoming contest that will choose the 2014 Festival logo from among student entries.
An important goal of the Festival of Whales has always been to provide entertaining and educational opportunities to share information about the marine mammals—especially California Gray Whales—that migrate past Dana Point. Festival organizers past and present have worked to foster a love and concern for the magnificent creatures, and in turn, a desire to protect them—a mission especially important to pass on to younger generations.
Throughout the Festival’s history Dana Point has increasingly become known as the whale capital of the West, thanks to their efforts and the formerly endangered species has steadily rebounded.
Part of the event’s success at attracting large numbers of event goers to the two-weekend festival has been a tradition of calling on artists to provide beautiful logo images to promote the event.
In 2011 Festival of Whales executive director Penny Elia started thinking about finding a design for 2012 and had an idea that would involve a contest among the city’s talented high school art students.
She approached Dana Hills digital art photography teacher Natalie Hribar-Kelly with the idea and the rest, as they say is history. Her students eagerly submitted designs and the first winner, class of 2011 graduate Carver Moore, was chosen.
The program was so well received the first year that Elia immediately began thinking of ways to provide even greater involvement for students.
Last January the program expanded to include the field trip and resulted in an impressive number of student artwork on display at the 2012 Art in the Park show.
Then from among the logo contest entries, a design by 2012 Dana Hills alum Steven Kazarian, was chosen to represent this year’s festival.
This year’s field trip was also a success, giving 90 more students the inspirational experience to fuel their imaginations and set them up for success at the upcoming Art in the Park exhibition and next year’s logo contest.
Coordinator for Art in the Park, Jackie Gallagher of the Dana Point Fine Arts Association, said she hopes student participation will be even greater this year, as supporting the artistic development of the city’s high school art program is among her group’s top priorities.
“It’s great for students to have real life experiences like this. I’ve had several kids tell me this was their first time on a boat. It’s one thing to see marine life on TV and something altogether different to actually be there and see first-hand how marine mammals interact in the wild. It’s the same with the Pilgrim; to actually be onboard to see what it looks like in real life as opposed to in pictures is amazing,” said Krista Snow, multi-media design instructor.
“These students will be a part of fine art exhibit at the Festival in March. So the idea here is to get inspired by the photographs taken and experiences they’ve had today. Sketches will be transformed into paintings and sculptures to communicate their experience through art work.”
Student Teddy Zadoorian reported that the sight of a whale frolicking with dolphins, as well as the view of the brig Pilgrim’s many sails and intricate rigging, provided him with plenty of pictures and ideas for artwork he will be submitting for the exhibit.
“Today was a lot of fun and was only my second time whale watching. This time I saw a lot more, learned a lot more. The Pilgrim was cool too,” Zadoorian said. “The weather was perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better day. I hope I have some good shots to submit for the art show.”
Students Michaela Parker, Michela Paganelli and a group of Zadoorian’s classmates also commented about the thrill of seeing whales and dolphin in the wild and getting and up-close view of the ship.
This year, like the last, Dana Hills students weren’t the only young people involved in the field trip.
A trio of interns from UC Irvine came along to gather photos and video for promoting the festival via social media.
“I am interested in social media and I feel like this is a great experience. I am so excited because I’ve never seen whales before,” said UCI intern Hikari Kimura.
Zeaon Zhang said he’d never been so close to whales and dolphins, and it was “great.”
Kristen Qi agreed, bubbling with delight over having witnessed whales and dolphins interacting so closely.
A new group of students was added to the event this year, at the request of Dana Hills home economics teacher Gio Torres whose students wanted to get involved.
Working together with Elia, the two came up with an interesting way to utilize Torres’ students’ culinary arts talents by giving them the opportunity to enter the Festival’s Whale of a Clam Chowder Cook-off sponsored by Fish for Life!, an organization that teaches angling to people with special needs.
“What fun Gio (Torres) and his students will have before the event selecting the best
chowder to pour at the cook-off,” said Fish for Life! founder Jim Holden.” It will be the talk of the town if they can beat the finest chefs in Dana Point.”
Torres will be holding a cook-off between his classes prior to the event to determine which recipe will be used for the competition.
“I’m looking forward to see which DHHS team rises to the top of ‘chowder mountain,’” said Principal Allemann, happy to have the program expand beyond the visual arts programs as his school.
Like Allemann, those involved from students and teachers to festival organizers, agree that this is an important and valuable program that should live on as a festival tradition.
So, as the 2012-2013 school year winds down, art students will once again be asked to submit entries for the next Festival logo.
The call for entries will be one of the students’ last assignments of the year.
The entries will be due sometime in July and the winner and runners-up for the 2014 Festival will be chosen by October.
For more information about the Dana Point Festival of Whales, log on to www.festivalofwhales.com.