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Alumni give back through gifting all the art pieces in the building

The collection is the largest of any public high school in the United States

%22Warm+Spirit+Brings+Light...+Golden+Gardens+2000%22+by+alumni+Joe+Reno+is+an+oil+on+canvas+painting+modeled+after+the+times+that+Reno+skipped+class+to+spend+time+at+the+beach.+The+piece+was+provided+by+City+of+Seattle+Department+of+Neighborhoods.
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Alumni give back through gifting all the art pieces in the building

"Warm Spirit Brings Light... Golden Gardens 2000" by alumni Joe Reno is an oil on canvas painting modeled after the times that Reno skipped class to spend time at the beach. The piece was provided by City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Julian Whitworth

"Warm Spirit Brings Light... Golden Gardens 2000" by alumni Joe Reno is an oil on canvas painting modeled after the times that Reno skipped class to spend time at the beach. The piece was provided by City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Julian Whitworth

Julian Whitworth

"Warm Spirit Brings Light... Golden Gardens 2000" by alumni Joe Reno is an oil on canvas painting modeled after the times that Reno skipped class to spend time at the beach. The piece was provided by City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Paige Anderson, Staff Reporter

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As students walk down the school hallways their eyes are drawn to the artwork that decorates the interior, each unique piece ranging in style, color and texture.  What students may not realize is that each piece has contributed to being a part of the largest art collection of any public high school in the United States.

The art collection consists of 88 paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and collages are all owned by the alumni foundation and on permanent long term loan to the school.

The goal to enhance the architecture of the building started in 1997 when members of the art committee, part of the High School Foundation, Alice Rooney, Matthew Kangas and other alumni gathered to review the public budget available when the school was remodeled.

The committee first started out participating in group call-outs, conducting gallery and museum research and accepting photos and murals that  were commissioned just for the foundation. Then, they created a plan to protect, care for and conserve the collection.

In order to be purchased, each painting must meet certain requirements such as art made by Ballard alumni who become professional artists; art made by Ballard neighborhood artists; art that reflects the diverse demographic profile of the student body; and art that addresses the history and culture of the Ballard community.

One particular piece that stands out amongst the community is placed on the second floor of the building near the southwest and northwest pods. It was painted by Joe Reno and was inspired by the Golden Garden sunsets Reno experienced when he attended the school.

Sophomore, Maddie Siamas is just one of many students who appreciate the beauty that the artwork brings to the building, specifically the painting by Reno.

“One day I looked over and saw this painting and I really enjoyed having artwork of the city I live in,” Siamis said. “It brings in the community and connects it all together.”

The committee raised money needed through the generosity of art collectors and other alumni along with funds from the Washington State Arts Commission, City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, the Allied Arts Foundation and an Annual Fund drive. The art has been sourced from from studios, galleries, commission and gifts.

Julian Whitworth
“Trees of Knowledge, 1963” is a wooden sculpture by Archie Graber. The trees represent the “future, present, and past.”

Kangas and the other members continue to pick out new pieces and must maintain the art. They also need to build a new fund from scratch each year to pay for repair fees, new labels, installation costs and framing.

“Thanks to the generosity of private individuals and the last wills and testaments of alumnae and others who believe art can enrich students lives just by their looking at it,” Kangas said. “Ballard High School is a living art museum.”

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Alumni give back through gifting all the art pieces in the building