Art Smart

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— Avid art enthusiasts will get a chance to learn more about art and its history through the second series of docent classes at The Depot beginning March 7.

For six weeks, participants can learn about the various art mediums in a free 12-course seminar taught by local artists.

The docent program, sponsored by the volunteers at The Depot, is a multifaceted program used as an educational tool and a communication key to understanding the arts.

Docents are gallery or museum volunteers who interact with the viewer and the art piece in getting to know one another. Docents provide an education about art in order to aid people in an explanation or interpretation of various exhibitions.

Another goal and purpose for docents is routing school groups through the exhibitions and bringing various facets of the arts to Doak Walker Care Center and senior citizen groups.

Poetry readings, artwork and dance numbers exhibited to those in the care center who cannot get outside and travel to The Depot are some of the goals of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, said Beth Banning, assistant for programs.

Classes in art appreciation and art history to workshops in ceramics and photography will continue through March and April, mostly every Wednesday and Saturday. Lectures are from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and workshops are 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Docent Liaison Kathleen Laterzo said workshops are an avenue that give training docents a complete comprehension of what goes into a work of art.

"When there is a demonstration of wheel work, docents will be given a hands-on opportunity to experience what it would be like to sit at a wheel," Laterzo said. "That's important to know when someone wants to know how a piece of pottery was made."

In Latin, docent or doceo, means "to teach," by a lecturer or instructor, but not a full professor. Laterzo said docents are common in European communities, so it seems fitting that the word is often applicable to the arts.

Having a wide range of European history knowledge from Wellesley

Laterzo said she has known friends who were previously involved in a docent program, but it was not done in Steamboat before because the staff was minimal and no one had thought of it.

Although the workshop themes have changed a bit from October, each bi-annual session consists of the same lecture material, which is scheduled by resident artists, Laterzo said.

A new workshop not scheduled last year and a missed lecture is why Deborah Babcock is repeating some classes of the docent program again in March.

"I didn't take the architecture class last year and they just added a paper-making class this year," Babcock said.

After working for years in a business that only used basic graphic art, Babcock said galleries and museums are her favorite places to visit. After moving from Michigan to Steamboat a year ago, she thought it time to take an art appreciation class. The art appreciation classes were expensive for out-of-state students and that's when Babcock said she found the article in the paper for the first docent program.

"We're getting the top instructors here," Babcock said. "I've met with artists, learned a lot and the people are great."

As a condition of the program, Babcock donates her time by gallery sitting every Saturday, taking her turn for the week.

The Depot's first docent program began in October 2000 and Laterzo said classes will continue every spring and fall until they have 10 to 15 docents.

"Ideally we would like a docent at The Depot every day of the week, especially in the summer when more people are coming in," Laterzo said.

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