Special to The Herald-Mail
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What does New York painter William Clutz have in common with Washington County Commissioner Jeff Cline?
They each have a keen memory of exhibiting their childhood art at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.
Cline said he remembers the thrill he experienced as a young person when his sculpture was exhibited in the annual Washington County Public School art exhibition.
Through this recognition, Cline experienced first-hand that early arts experiences help develop our citizens for the future, not only through developing their appreciation for the arts, and their reverence for historic and cultural objects, buildings and cities, but also by developing creative- thinking individuals who are devoted to life-long learning and contributing to the greater good.
Clutz went on to have a full-time career as a painter, working in New York City and regularly exhibiting his work. His paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York City, and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.
His art is found in the collections of Harvard University, New York University, the Dayton Art Institute, Brooklyn College and Phillips Exeter Academy.
It is also found at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa.
Clutz traces his success back to his early exposure to art through the museum's art classes and the opportunity for recognition through his participation in the Cumberland Valley Artists exhibition. He won the museum's "Best in Show" purchase award as a teenager.
The trustees of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts recently accepted a legacy collection of Clutz's art into the permanent collection. Including Clutz's work into the collection serves as a repository for a representative sampling of art by a regional artist of note, and fulfills one aspect of the museum's mission.
Clutz epitomizes one aspect of the museum's art educational programming: the training of future artists.
Since 1936, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has offered free Saturday morning art classes for children. These classes cover a variety of artistic techniques and media drawn from international artistic traditions.
Children enjoy a creative outlet and develop visual intelligence, artistic knowledge and understanding of artistic media and craft. Each week, they take home creations from the art classes. Approximately 550 children are served each year through this beneficial program
On Friday, Jan. 20, the museum will host a reunion for members of the museum art school. More than 50 artists and art teachers, and many more people are expected to attend the reception and to reminisce about their time at the museum.
For the past 20 years, the Saturday Morning Youth Program has been sponsored through the generosity of the Mary K. Bowman Historical and Fine Arts Fund. Three generations from the region, including William Clutz, have benefitted from the established program, and they often recount their experiences to members of the museum's board and staff.
The arts provide positive, enjoyable and productive activities for youth and adults alike.
Youth art education programs of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts play a vital role in the fabric of our society. It has been shown that young people who are engaged in the arts outperform their peers. They score higher on academic tests, exhibit discipline and problem-solving skills, and enjoy the needed creative outlet that the arts provide.
These programs are part of a larger commitment at the museum to provide arts education for people of all ages. Lectures, concerts, films and docent tours for adult groups are central to the programming for adult audiences, while programs for young people include not only the free Saturday morning art class for children ages 6 to 12, but also fee-based art classes and family art events.
To learn more, or to sign up for one of the museum's many arts educational opportunities, simply telephone the museum at 301-739-5727 or go online to register for a class.
Rebecca Massie Lane is director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.
If you go ...
WHAT: Museum Art School Reunion Exhibition: Creating, Inspiring and Educating Artists for 80 Years
WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20
WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, off Virginia Avenue, Hagerstown
COST: $20; $15 for museum members
CONTACT: Call 301-739-5727
MORE: Exhibition curated by museum educator Amy L. Hunt, and museum volunteer Susanne Kass
For many Washington County students, Saturday mornings mean free art lessons at the the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.