FLAX in Downtown Oakland!

Participants  Teachers – Blanka Soltys/Fremont; Debora Gordon/Castlemont; Deborah Green/Oakland Tech; Nestor Gonzalez/Dewey; Michelle Lewis/Glenview; Carl Barone/Roosevelt; Amber Miller/Chabot; OUSD/Visual & Performing Arts – Phil Rydeen & Ann Wettrich.

Welcome & Opening – Ann & Phil

Howard Flax was introduced and welcomed the group to FLAX. We thanked him for his hospitality in offering us with meeting space–setting up work tables/chairs and providing us with journal workshop supplies and gift bags. We learned that FLAX provides a 10% discount for teachers and also offers some free arts weekend workshops for customers. Check out FLAX website for details.


Journaling Workshop – Nestor Gonzalez

  • Beginning Discussion of the questions: What is a journal? and Why do we journal? Conversation highlights included: getting down with my brain visually; creative writing; to activate and focus thinking—capturing ideas in words and drawings; meditative, like coloring books for adults.
  • Personal and Teaching Journal Practice. Nestor described his long-standing journaling practice, starting out as a teenager. Trained as an artist and scientist, he draws inspiration from both fields. He showed a few of his journals and discussed how he begins by numbering each page and often creates a table of contents. His journals include diagrams with labels, stories, poems, sketches, collages, etc. As a teacher he engages students in journaling by encouraging playfulness and integrating personal reflection with class notes. He passed around some student journals—noting the variety of styles and shapes. Nestor recommended giving students specific prompts to get them going and gave examples—i.e. making a journal for or about someone you love; making a journal using letters of the alphabet to create an image, etc.


  • Group Journaling Exercise. Passing around a recycled student journals and setting out an array of materials to use — magazines, glue stick, scissors, markers, color pencils, etc., Nestor instructed us to 1) take a recycled journal and open to the middle; 2) use the materials at hand, and respond to the prompt: Create a representation of yourself in the journal and a wish for your students. At the end, we did a gallery walk (observation and reflection) to look at each person’s work, noticing different styles and strategies. Finally, we stopped in front of one of the journals and each described what we found compelling or appreciated in that particular journal.

 Updates – Ann & Phil

  • Meeting Schedule/Site Planning – Phil is continuing to advocate within the district for the return to Wed. Monthly PD and Buy-Back PD days. In the meantime, the plan is to meet once a month on Saturday mornings (for museum/gallery site visits and meet ups) and/or Tuesday afternoons from 4-5:30. Check the website calendar for upcoming meeting days and sites.
  • Next meeting –  January 2017 at KALA. Ann will work to confirm a date ASAP and      will send out a notice to the group.
  • Art Supplies/Materials – The VAPA office has some money to purchase visual arts supplies. Nestor and Michelle volunteered to work with Ann to develop a list of 50 basic supply items. Once created, VAPA office will send out forms with ordering instructions. We are estimating between $500-1,000 in materials/supplies per visual arts teacher.

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