Greenpoint Gazette
Jeff Mann

Greenpoint Rallies Behind PS 34 Arts

BY Jeff Mann

With the latest round of budget cuts aimed at its visual arts program, the faculty and parents of P.S. 34 took matters into their own hands this week at the Art Party, a benefit to support art education at the Blue Ribbon school.

More than 700 pieces of student artwork, on display for PS 34’s ninth annual art show, lined the walls and columns of West Street’s from the source, on Wednesday, May 22nd, drawing over 100 people and netting better than $10,000 for various art projects, such as the school’s annual art parade (June 20th – 9:30AM) and art show itself, which was previewed at the Art Party and runs through Monday, May 27th.

Amid conversations about budget cuts and the importance of art education, the Art Partiers got live performances from professional musicians/PS 34 parents The Hugh Pool Band, Jack O’Neill and avant-garde music stylist Shahla Atlas. Dinner was served, courtesy of local sponsors, including Acme and The Garden. Dandelion Wine provided drinks, and a silent auction of contemporary artwork, concert tickets, restaurant gift certificates, spa treatments and a sailing trip had everyone’s attention throughout the night. (The high bid was for a work by Roxy Paine.)

More than just a fundraiser, the event was a celebration of PS 34’s highly-regarded art program and its standout teacher, Lisa Summa, to whom the evening was dedicated. It was also the first effort by the newly incorporated Friends of the Oliver H. Perry School/PS 34.

“I grew up with art,” said Friends President and event co-chair Jessica Murray. “My father teaches the philosophy of art, I sell art and my husband makes art, so I thought it doesn’t matter whether there’s a good program at the school because we can just teach our daughter [Beatrice] at home. Boy was I wrong! It’s a whole other job to teach children about art and she has a very special gift for that. By the time these children graduate they’re as well versed in art as a college student would be, and that’s because Lisa believes that they’re capable of learning at that level and maintains her expectations for them.”

“I think it is important to introduce art history even at a young age, explained event co-chair Summa, who for the past nine years has taught art and art history at PS 34. “At the elementary school level, it is about experimentation, exploration and enjoyment. You would be surprised how moved they are by famous artists.”

In addition to Murray and Summa, Jane Pool and Cynthia Hahn were co-chairs for the successful event. “This evening is a testament to what that energy can do and what that energy can produce,” said PS 34 Principal Carmen Asselta. “What holds that energy together? Our children. Because of their talent, what they’re capable of and what their future holds.”

For information about Friends of the Oliver H. Perry School/PS 34 or to help support PS 34, contact Jessica Murray ( or Lisa Summa (

PS 34 Art Show
Thursday, May 23 – Monday, May 27
10AM – 5PM
from the source
69 West Street


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