One of the area's largest producers of art often gets overlooked. It's the schools. Hundreds of pieces of art get produced throughout the year. But most of it goes unseen outside of the school or home.
CareCore National, the Bluffton health benefits management company, has taken that art and put it on display in the front hallway of its offices. Every three months a different school in Beaufort County will provide art to line the corridor.
The first school to be exhibited is Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts, which has been nationally recognized for its arts program. The program serves not only to decorate a corporate office building, but to give the students a chance to get their work seen.
Alexandria Gentemann painted a watercolor of her corgi, Ethel, which inadvertently turned into a tie-dye swirl of greens and yellows because the watercolors spread. No matter, though; it actually made it look cooler, according to the second-grader.
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"I actually kind of like my mistake," she said at the opening reception last week.
The idea for the gallery came from Helen Ryan, the wife of CareCore CEO Don Ryan and former principal of Hilton Head Island High School. When CareCore's second building opened in October off Buckwalter Parkway, she was involved in some of the interior decoration. A local art component was welcomed, and what could be more local than county schoolchildren, she figured.
The art is largely created as part of a class. Posters showcase how art benefits students, such as helping them with spatial or critical-thinking skills.
Alana Adams, the education director of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, taught a class of first-graders about marine life and then gave the assignment to paint a sea creature in a unique way.
Students created a glue outline on black construction paper, colored the background with chalk pastels and then rolled black ink over top to make the glue pop off the page.
Isabel Lascota made a smiling pair of jelly fish against a background of purple, blue and yellow.
Asked how it felt to be a first-grader who's already become an exhibiting artist, she said it made her "happy."
If anything, the gallery can do the same for the workers at CareCore.
"The schools do such great work," Ryan said. "To me, it brightens the life of everyone here."