Last year, in honor of Black History Month, artist and illustrator Joseph Watson and gallery owner Dana Satterwhite decided to pool their efforts to create a Love for Literacy event.
The event is meant to showcase local talent in writing and illustration and to let children see that kind of work as an option to pursue.
The event, in its second year and set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 22, is expanding and trying to reach a larger portion of the community.
“We wanted to let them know that there’s a potential, that they can do anything,” Watson said. “We wanted to create a cool, fun event.”
The pair had already worked together on “Go, Go, Greta!” The children’s book was written by Satterwhite, who owns TastySpace, a gallery in Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St., and illustrated by Watson. The event seemed like a natural next step in reaching kids and allowing them behind the scenes of the creative process.
The initial event was a small, intimate gathering at Emergency Arts. This year, it partnered with the Metro Arts Council of Southern Nevada to move it to the West Las Vegas Arts Center, 947 W. Lake Mead Blvd.
“We’re looking to get about 200 children this year,” said Ashanti McGee, coordinator for the Love for Literacy festival. “It’s a big leap in attendance, and we’ve got a lot happening at the expanded event. We want to show kids all the multi-cultural talent that is here and inspire them.”
Organizers applied for grants to fund the expansion. Watson said last year’s event was very casual, but organizers saw potential for something bigger and better.
“Last year, I brought some easels and some of the paintings from ‘Go, Go, Greta!’ and I did live painting,” he said. “Dana did a more formal presentation with a PowerPoint that included several authors and illustrators.”
This year, the event is set to include workshops, demonstrations and a reading room where well-known members of the community will read to children.
“We’ve created a lot of partnerships within the community, especially with people who are involved with literature and the arts,” McGee said. “The Artz to Go bus will be there with children’s art instruction and activities. There will be an actual printing press so the kids can see how it works and print something themselves. There will be music, paintings, balloons and workshops pertaining to illustration and writing.”
Watson is set to hold a workshop on children’s book cover illustration and show the process of creating a digital hybrid cover, taking kids through the process of working with authors, thumbnail sketches, finished art and scanning.
Watson remembers when professional artists visited schools he was attending as a child, and he hopes to pass along a similar experience.
“You’d see a guy and say, ‘Wow, that guy works for Disney, working on animation on the big screen,’ and he’d be right there in front of us,” Watson said. “You don’t forget that.”
McGee said there are also plans for a discussion of issues affecting the community and especially the impact of educational literacy. She passed along a statement from co-founder Satterwhite.
“We are doing this because we care,” he wrote. “With a little luck, we will continue to grow the event year-to-year and put literacy, creative occupations and the education that leads to them squarely on the map, where they belong.”
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4532.