Artist Inspires Youth To Embrace Creativity And Culture

Jefferson Award Winner Founded Organization To Provide Art Education

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) Ronald Chase has spent his whole life making art. Now at 80 years old, he reflects:

“I felt like that was something worth dedicating a good portion of the last portion of my life.”

Twenty-three years ago, he started SF Art & Film for Teenagers, a non-profit dedicated to getting young people interested in the arts. The group takes trips to museums, the opera, and the symphony.

“I think the arts cover a myriad of all sorts of events past, history, emotions, philosophy.. so you cover all these things while you are experiencing a work of art,” Chase said. “To talk about these things — that’s a whole other part of yourself that needs to be nurtured.”

The program began with just 18 kids, but quickly expanded. Now, as many as 600 young people from all walks of life attend Chase’s classes. Many have gone on to successful careers in the arts.

When Chase isn’t teaching art, he is creating his own art in the form of 3D constructions, painting, and photography. His works can even be found at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Met in New York City.

Last summer, he did something very interesting: he gave away a number of pieces for free to students so they could start their own collections.

“It was more really an experiment to see how you could generate some kind of interest, not in the system, but a part from the system,” he said.

Sebastian Kolderup-Lane will be a senior at Lowell High School this fall. But someday, he wants to be in the movie-making business. He’s hoping Chase’s class can help him get there.

“Ron has given me an understanding of art that I just didn’t have before,” he said. “Filmmaking or painting or drawing, whatever your outlet is, really teaches you to look at the world in a different way, in a more beautiful way.”

“It’s made me so much happier and fulfilled to be surrounded by young people,” Chase added. “(To) realize that you are doing something really valuable for them and watch them grow — that’s what parents do. I just have 500 kids.”

So for helping kids discover their potential through art, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Ronald Chase.

More from Elizabeth Cook
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