(photo by Brentwood Arts Center)

MONTANA AVE — Turning 40 can be depressing for some people, but not for the Brentwood Arts Center. It’s ready to party.

The family-friendly home of creativity celebrates its fourth decade this year, and plans to do so in style with a three-day fiesta including a display of its students’ work, hands-on art projects and live demonstrations by teachers.

“It’s our 40th anniversary, so we’re making a bigger deal than ones in the past,” said the school’s director David Limrite. “It’s the time of the year that we celebrate the achievements of our students, and have the opportunity to share with the community.”

The center was founded in 1971 by Ed and Linda Buttwinick in response to demand from parents who offered up space and pupils to Ed Buttwinick during a 1970 strike by Los Angeles school teachers.

After nine months of teaching out of garages, Buttwinick had fostered a class of 80 students, according to the school’s website.

The Buttwinicks decided to press forward with their own art school, and in 1971 moved into their current location at 26th Street and Montana Avenue.

In 2005, the center was taken over by Sarkis Melkonian, but the vision of its original founding couple remains — to teach serious art to serious students and foster a sense of community both within the school and between the school and its neighbors.

“I always say that we have something for everyone, but we may not be for everybody,” Limrite said. “We are very serious and dedicated to art education.”

Its students are similarly engaged.

Jordan Blaquera, the school’s administrative director, recently sat down with Shirley Phillips, a student who has been with the school from its first year, studying watercolor.

Others, like the Camp family, come in packs.

Lulu Camp and her two children, Henry and Cleo, all attend the school, and will have their art on display for the show.

Cleo began first when she was only 4 years old, making her the senior member of the family with nine years of instruction under her belt.

“I have a figure drawing on display,” she said. “I prefer water colors, and sometimes charcoal and I love photography.”

The school is like a home away from home for the family, Lulu said.

“It’s a fun time to get together with the other artists who paint and do other kinds of artwork,” she said. “I see these people more than I get to see my friends, and we’ve all become friends.”

Almost 450 pieces of artwork will be on display over the three days of the show. Some works will be marked for sale, if the artist gives the go ahead.

Although the school usually takes a 25 percent commission on works sold, this time the money will be going to a cause near and dear to the hearts of the artists, School on Wheels.

School on Wheels is a nonprofit that pairs volunteer tutors with homeless students in need of extra help to get through their academics. The art center got involved through one of its models and part-time instructors, Blue McDonnell.

The art center has worked with School on Wheels for many years, with several students volunteering their time and talents to the nonprofit.

The center will open its doors from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. Admission is free. For a detailed list of faculty demonstrations, by teacher and time, visit www.brentwoodart.com/exhibits.


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