What People Are Saying

The petition has only been posted for a few weeks and we already have hundreds of signers. Some folks have felt compelled to fill out that “comment” section of the form. We’re glad they did!  Below we share a sampling of their concerns about the Educational Alliance’s upcoming renovations  for the Art School. Keep those comments coming! We will include them when we present the petition to the Board of Directors.

Have YOU signed the petition yet? If not, please click on “Sign the Petition!” tab at the top where you can see the complete list of signers, view their many comments, and add your own name and thoughts about the planned renovations for the Educational Alliance’s historic art school.  If you would like to get more involved in the efforts of the Organizing Committee to Save the Art School please email us at oc2sas@juno.com

*A Granddaughter Supports Saving the Art School
My grandfather, Harry Levine, was a student and teacher at the Art School in the early part of the 20th century, until his untimely death in 1943.  I knew he had studied at the Art School, but while doing research on his life at the Center for Jewish History, I discovered, to my delight, that he must have also taught at the Art School. What I found were minutes from a faculty meeting regarding a grievance.  My grandfather was listed with the faculty present, and was quoted in these minutes, as were Louise Nevelson and others.  His work was included in an exhibit at the art school sometime in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s, and I believe his 2 carved busts in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum (currently on display in the Visible Storage of the Luce Center)were gifts of the Alliance. I strongly support renovating the facilities in a way that will maintain the amount of space and the availability of natural light, as well as the opportunities for continuing darkroom and welding experiences.  Thank you for the opportunity to include my voice.

*Another Granddaughter in Support of Saving the Art School
My grandmother, Louise Nevelson, studied at the Educational Alliance and her teacher Chaim Gross shifted her from painting to sculpture. I’m positive the natural light contributed to understanding the principals of art and the shaping from light and shadow. Hard to do in artificial light. Both of these artists are very important figures in America’s Art History.

*Concern for the Art School’s Teachers
It is an outrage to decimate a renowned art school by locating its studios in the basement, doing away with a one of a kind metal welding studio and darkroom photography facilities in addition to reducing the size of this world class department by more than 50% of what it once was.  Why can’t temporary space be found for at least the drawing, painting and other classes that do not require heavy equipment for the 2 years of the renovation so that the whole amazing art staff will not be destroyed and put out of work.

*Expand the Mission of the Art Instead of Cutting it Back
I agree, a renovation is a positive step. But down sizing the school, moving it to the basement, and reducing its scope by cutting steel sculpture (welding) and photography is a way of making it irrelevant. At a time when it is a unique institution, and New York City is a growing city. Why not expand the mission of the art instead of cutting it back?

*Pedogogical Importance of Natural Light
 As a plein air painter of New York City, I have been supporting myself by the sale of my paintings for the past 30 years. I mention this only to point out that painting by daylight is not obsolete but in fact it is still commercially viable. It is
valued by those who appreciate fine art painting. In my studio I use full spectrum lighting in the winter afternoons and at night, but I cannot see the true color of any painting unless I hold it in front of my window in the daylight. The colors look substantially different.

I do not think that anything can take the place of daylight when it comes to perception of color and tone. To learn to paint in artificial light handicaps the students who are truly dedicated and is like teaching musicians to play on instruments which cannot be correctly tuned.

There are many other reasons to allow students the sensation of light and air in the classroom. For example, how air looks in different kinds of daylight is also crucial to the art of painting. Another reason is that the subtleties of daylight, one of the most beautiful aspects of  nature whether the light falls on a still life, human flesh, or a corner of the studio,  provides inspiration to many students with artistic sensibilities. It certainly did to me when I first started painting.

Please also consider the damage that would be done to the quality and standing of the art school if painting students are forced to learn in artificial light which is by any standards inferior.

*Art School is Unique
The photography darkroom and welding studio make the Art School unique among New York art institutions. Fostering the continuation of these resources should be of utmost concern to the EA Board and community.

*Art School Welding Experience Invaluable to Art Career
As a former student and monitor in the welding class, the opportunity to learn, improve and then build metal sculpture over many years was invaluable to my art career. The welding space and Art School as a whole is a unique atelier format where beginning students and accomplished artists come together to practice their art and learn from teachers and from each other in a non-competitive atmosphere. The welding studio in particular is one of the very few in NYC open to all. The Art School is both a neighborhood gem and an artists haven for the entire metropolitan area.

*The Camera is A Wonderful Way to See the World
I believe that the art school should not be diminished and the photography department should not be eliminated. I taught at the photo school at the Educational Alliance in the 1960’s and some of the students did some very important work.  The camera is a wonderful way of seeing the world and please think about this.

*Developing as an Artist at the Educational Alliance
My experience at the Art School of the Educational Alliance was an important part of my development as an artist.  I was fortunate to benefit from contact with such people as Abe Eisenfeld, Chaim Gross, and Harvey Citron and many others.  The opportunity to work in a space with natural light for painting, simultaneously to the activity of those carving in stone and using the welding studio was crucial to that experience.  I am one of the few artists I know that has skills in all of these areas and I can thank the Educational Art School for this. Please continue to offer this experience to other artists.

*An “Edgie” Now Back as a Senior
I was a current student in the ceramics class  ( for Seniors) and found it very helpful. I am 84 yrs old and spent much time as a youth AT ” The Edgies”. That’s where I learned to sew, do leather crafts, jewelry making. That was back in the forties. I’m back in the neighborhood since 1998 and zeroed in back to the EDGIES when I got here. No doubt things must progress but the history of the Art school is so historic and GREAT that it should be Preserved and Continued for more than its historic value.

*Continuing Black and White Photography is in Everyone’s Interests
As a retired Art Teacher and currently a docent at the Mint Museum, I believe arts education is vital to students, their community and the greater visual arts community at large.  Being able to view and show a substantial collection of Ansel Adams work when I give tours, the wonder and awe of Black & White photography by the public will never cease.  It’s beauty and the “magic” that ocurrs when a hand manipulates paper and chemical can never be duplicated.  It is in everyone’s interest to continue teaching skills that create beauty today and for future audiences.

*Natural Light Vital for Middle-Aged and Senior Art Students
The Art School must remain on the 5th floor with large windows, natural light and high ceilings.  The natural light is absolutely necessary, especially for middle aged and senior students, who need the contrast and natural light to see their 3 dimensional work.  When I’ve taken the evening classes, it’s must more difficult to see and eyestraining.  Daytime classes in abundant natural light are an essential part of stone carving and sculpture.

*Natural Light Essential for Stonecarvers, Photography/Welding Makes A Difference in People’s Lives
The six or so years I spent studying stonecarving with Alfredo Cardenas and Francisco Rivera at the Alliance have been invaluable for my practice as an interdisciplinary artist. Natural light is an essential ingredient in the process of stonecarving and all 3-dimensional work. I can speak from experience as I subsequently carved in a studio without natural light. In *that* studio we would wheel our pieces out onto the street in order to truly “see” them! Please do not let this happen to the carvers of the Alliance.  The other wonderful ingredient in the mix is the students, especially in the day classes. Sometimes I learned as much or more from my fellow students – about carving, history, and life – as we shared the dusty, noisy, and miraculous energy of creative production. While I did not personally study welding or photography at the EA, I knew some of the students and faculty and know how essential these two areas are among the school’s offerings. Please do not eliminate these programs – they make a difference in people’s lives.

* The School Has Been a Beacon
 Having taught for a number of years in the wonderful corner studio on the 5th Floor, I appreciate how important such a wonderful space is for the nurturance of art creativity, especially in a society such as ours, so focused on material goods, used for the instruction and practice of young student artists from the community as well as older retirees and working people who were able to attend after the working day in the evening classes. The school has been a beacon, an important cultural force, and not only in the present, but going back to the immigrant era giving to the world some of our most famous artists, such as Chaim Gross and Raphael Soyer. I strongly urge you architect and designers to consider a better solution for the building’s space needs. If you are creative, I’m sure you will be able to do it.

*Endangerment of an Historic and Important Art Program
I came to the Educational Alliance in 2005 when the New School University replaced its historic (built during Bernice Abbott’s reign as instructor) darkroom with a wide hallway.  The betrayal I felt by the mindless demolition of the very reason I enrolled at the New School has not faded in the passing years. I was lucky at that time, however, to be welcomed by The Educational Alliance to finish my current semester at their lovely darkroom.  I had such a great experience that I continued for several semesters at the Educational Alliance, despite continuing my full course-load at the New School. Michael Macioce was one of the finest and most inspiring instructors I have had the honor to learn from. It makes me very sad to contemplate the thought of the endangering of another historic and important art program due to thoughtless plans for renovation.



Posted on September 17, 2011, in How You Can Help. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Please do NOt allow the artists to be left in the dark, so to speak.

    Mimi Miller

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