Sevastopol art teacher Klayton Kindt set out on a mission two years ago to rescue student artwork.
In 1995, the Sevastopol School District started keeping one piece of artwork each year from one graduating senior, then displayed or kept the pieces in the old multipurpose room.
“When the building was going to be demolished, every teacher was in charge of packing up their supplies,” Kindt said. “That room was overlooked.”
Kindt stepped up and took the pieces home for safe keeping. The collection represented nearly three decades’ worth of student art.
“There was no rhyme or reason to their matting, framing or display,” he said. “Some were in $5 frames. I took it upon myself to find some money to refresh the collection.”
Kindt has taught at Sevastopol for seven years, and each year, he has continued the tradition of having the superintendent choose one graduating senior’s artwork to keep at the school forever.
Kindt applied for and received a grant from the Sturgeon Bay-based Raibrook Foundation, which provides grants for projects that enhance education, recreation and history. The foundation welcomes applications for projects that can make a difference in the county, and especially those that can be appreciated for many generations to come.
Now Kindt is looking for the best location or locations in highly visible areas inside the school to display the 28 pieces in the Pioneer Legacy Collection.
“I want to display the art in a location that students pass every day to help students understand art has meaning,” Kindt said.
The Raibrook grant funds helped to cover the costs of new frames, glass and matting, with all of the work done by AMO Gallery and Framing.
“Audrey M. Off [of AMO] did a great job putting her talented eye to it, and also helped us out with the pricing a little bit,” Kindt said.
He also affixed information decals about the art and artists to the backs of the paintings. Some had no information; some were unsigned and given no title.
Kindt said many Sevastopol student-artists have gone on to professions not related to art, but almost all of the works in the collection showed excellent skill and creativity. A few of the artists have gone on to art school, and the creator of a dark, abstract, faceless portrait in charcoal now works as a professional artist.
That artist, Keith Negley, has had work featured in major newspapers nationwide and published in The New Yorker and on the cover of The Washington Post Magazine. He also works as an author and award-winning illustrator of children’s books such as Mary Wears What She Wants, My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too).
Pieces in the Sevastopol collection range from outdoor scenes to the colorful, cartoonish portrait that Emily Moravec created in 2009 of longtime art teacher Jim Rericha in a thoughtful pose. The piece didn’t have a title, but Kindt calls it “Sad Jim.”
Another student who has art in the collection and went on to art school – in addition to Negley – is 2018 graduate Lamyra Adams, who contributed a large, colorful painting of a rooster to the collection. After four years at UW-Milwaukee, Adams finished her bachelor of fine arts studies in design and visual communications, and now she’s staying in school in pursuit of a B.A. in art education.
Superintendent Kyle Luedtke selected a pencil sketch by Elizabeth Genske for the collection this year. Genske said she finds painting to be relaxing, and shading in pencil especially calming. She said she’ll continue both as a pastime, but she plans to study early-childhood education in college. She found that she loves working with children while serving as a kindergarten aide this year.
Kindt said Genske’s sketch – a collection of clocks and scenes that she arrayed in 15 panels on one rectangular sheet of art paper – shows great technical skill. About the message of the work she completed in Drawing II class, Genske said, “Time is everything.”