Brandywine River Museum debuts children's art exhibit

Photo by Chris Barber Brandwyine River Museum Director Thomas Padon, left, stands with Charlie Papiernik, 8, who inspired the children's show and to whom he presented a trophy for that suggestion.
Photo by Chris Barber Parents examine the art produced by their children at the Brandywine River Museum on Sunday.

CHADDS FORD -- Young artists from the Avon Grove Charter School have joined the ranks of the Wyeths and Howard Pyle with art on the walls of the Brandywine River Museum.

For the first time in its history, the museum is hosting exhibits by children. It debuted the first one on Sunday with a reception in the downstairs gallery.

In all, there were 164 original pieces done in pastels, collage, watercolor and marker done by children in grades kindergarten through sixth grades. They and their parents visited the show, pointing out their pictures, posing for photos beside them and gathering cookies and popcorn that had been laid out for snacking.

Charter School art teacher Lisa Murray said she was delighted with the project that she and fellow teacher Sonya Bannon oversaw in the classrooms. “It’s wonderful. I’d like to do it every year. A lot of kids have never been to the museum before,” she said.

The show came to fruition under the leadership of museum Director Thomas Padon, who was inspired by the suggestion of eight-year-old student Charlie Papiernik at a recent fund-raising event during the summer.

According to public relations coordinator Lora Englehart, young Charlie approached Padon at the Radnor Hunt and suggested that they have a show of students’ art, inasmuch as he loves art and has been visiting the museum for most of his life because his mother works there.

Bannon said that to their surprise, shortly after the encounter between Padon and Charlie they were contacted at school by museum director of education Mary Cronin asking if they could provide the artwork. In all, she asked for 164 pieces of any medium on a flat surface measuring 9 by 11 inches.

The museum bore the costs and did the mounting for the project.

At the opening on Sunday, the parents and children got to see the results of their efforts, which had the artwork framed in black and lined up rows along the gallery on the lower floor.

The celebrity for the day was Charlie, who posed for pictures as Padon gave him a trophy for suggesting the show. Padon accompanied Charlie to his picture as well and complimented him on his work.

Also present at the reception was Phyllis Wyeth, who is the wife of artist Jamie Wyeth. “I’m thrilled,” she said. She added that she has thought and suggested for years that a children’s exhibit at the museum would be a good idea.

Murray and Bannon were there hugging their students and talking about the preparations. They glowed with pride as they watched their students get excited about the landscape-themed pictures on display. Head of School Kevin Brady watched and said, “It makes you proud.”

In a published statement Padon said, “It always astounds me how brilliantly creative children’s art is, and giving these students in the community the opportunity to display their work will hopefully be as rewarding to them as I know it will be to the staff,” Padon noted.

According to publicity issued by the museum, the exhibition by the students from AGCS will be on view through Jan. 5 on the lower level of the museum. Future exhibitions of work by students from the museum’s partner schools, including Caln Elementary in Coatesville and Chester Charter School of the Arts, will take place in 2014.

The Brandywine River Museum is on Route 1 in Chadds Ford.