Around Town: KidsArt Recipient of Prestigious National Award

KidsArt is changing the perspectives of many students, one brushstroke at a time.

The program has been nationally recognized as one of the top five art programs in the country to have “exceptionally exposed children to high levels of artistic success.” The International Education Bureau has selected it, along with four other art programs, to receive the Walt Disney Motif Award, an award that stands for youth advocacy and children’s education.

Glendora has been lucky to house a KidsArt studio in its very own downtown. KidsArt is a drawing and painting program that caters to a variety of mediums, and implements step by step methods. It teaches tone, shading, and perspective a little at a time so students can absorb the information. The teachers instruct the students on how to apply the methods, and help them develop their skills.

KidsArt location in the Glendora Village

KidsArt location in the Glendora Village

Monica Ek discovered the program when completing her undergraduate degree at Cal State Fullerton. She had studied art and tutored children in her free time.

Ek describes the program as “the best of both worlds” for her. “I get to use something that I’m passionate about-which is the art-and also getting to still work with children, which is something I’m great at.”

She did not expect to continue working with the program, but it grew on her, and she flourished in her environment, leading to her becoming the manager of the Glendora studio in 2009.

Their main focus is to teach students how to paint realistically, giving them the “fundamentals that they need to create anything they want,” Ek explained. Their goal is “create a well-rounded artist.”

Students go through a program that first deals with dry mediums, before moving on to the more difficult wet mediums. The students are separated by age group and skill level, and go through the program at their own pace.

The Glendora studio used to be closed on Sunday and Monday, but with the torrent of new classes that Ek has pushed for, it now opens its doors every day of the week.

The studio hosts a variety of workshops, some with specific themes like Nightmare Before Christmas.

Ek has also been focusing her efforts on expanding classes for homeschoolers. She was determined to reach them, and succeeded; she went from teaching just one class of homeschoolers to five.

Sample work from some of the students at Glendora KidsArt

Sample work from some of the students at Glendora KidsArt

The Glendora studio has come a long way since its establishment in 1997, starting out with only 60 students and two teachers. Now, the studio boasts eight staff members, and 140 students. All the teachers have gone to art school, and through the KidsArt training. Ek herself received a bachelor in Fine Arts degree with a focus on illustration. She was even invited to illustrate a children’s book-I Am Divorced…But Still Me-and gladly took on the task.

Along with managing the studio, Ek volunteers as a teacher at Arts and Science Day every year at Cullen Elementary, and participates in drawing activities with the students during lunch for Red Ribbon Week. She will also be doing a drawing activity for Inspiration Day at the Glendora Enrichment Academy hosted by Inspire Charter School.

The studio holds an annual art show, displaying art pieces from the students. This year, it will be hosting a Halloween themed art show on October 30, from 2:30-4:30 pm. Families and friends are encouraged to come in their costumes, and raffle prizes will be available.

Ek hopes to offer summer classes in the future, and aims to expand their classes even more. She wants to host more workshops, with themes like anime and Pokémon.

You can see the children’s book Ek illustrated, I Am Divorced…But Still Me here.

For more of Monica Ek’s artwork, check out her website.

For any inquiries about KidsArt in Glendora, go to their website and be sure to visit their location in the Glendora Village at 160 N. Glendora Avenue, Suite G
Glendora, CA 91741.