Now and Then, How Arts Have Changed at the Boys’ Club

The arts have always been a part of BCNY programming. But there has been an evolution from an arts and crafts focus to a robust multi-disciplinary approach that includes everything from silk screening to animation and fashion design.

 


 

Arts programming as described by Frank Gehrecke in a 1980s publication about the Boys’ Club:

The arts programs consist mainly of painting and the “crafts,” woodworking. Every weekday from 3-10 pm members flock to scheduled supervised arts and crafts sessions. There’s no pressure. No one has to come. “They come because they want to,” stated one of the personnel emphatically.

The projects range from smearing paint to making signs and banners, painting Styrofoam totem poles and gliders, creating papier-mâché masks of faces and skeletons, macramé weaving, drawing and painting with oils and canvas.

The Jefferson Park building has been very successful with its ceramic classes and turned out some excelled pieces. One Jefferson park boy was said to boast: “Our ceramics’ll bowl you over!”

The woodworking classes are many varied, and some very original ideas surface. Shoe boxes are popular. Airplanes. Go-carts. Wooden name plates for desks. One ambitious boy even cut and made a doll house. Another, a guitar.

 

Arts from the archives:

 


 

Arts programming today:

Today, the Josie Robertson School of Music and Art provides members with the opportunity to discover a variety of visual art mediums beyond “arts and crafts” with a wide variety of benefits. Research has shown that art classes reduce stress, particularly for children who come from low-income families. Learning artistic skills helps kids develop the ability to focus and concentrate, and allows for an emotional release.

This year BCNY offered 17 different arts programs including 3D Art, Comics, Dance, Design Team aka Mini Threads, Discovery Art, Drama, Graphics & Design, Stop-Animation & Videos, Media, Music Production, Photography, Sculpture and Ceramics, Silk Screening, STEP, Studio Art, Teen Design and Urban Expressions.

As Harriman Clubhouse Arts Director Michael O’Malley says, “Art at the Boys’ Club is centered on creating opportunities that build confidence while creating courageous space for expression. Boys here are given the great opportunity to nurture their artistic abilities in a safe, engaging, and dynamic space that is solely focused on them.”

Arts programming is often defined by the times. Today we see art in STEAM, where design is essential for engineering and technology in a way it wasn’t considered in previous decades. Our members use things like 3D printers to make cookie cutters, Valentines’ Day gifts, or keychains. They’ve learned to harness a new form of technology and use it as comfortably and with the same intention as a paintbrush.

 

3D Printing by the Digital Design Team:

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Using kid-friendly software programs that teaches the basics of 3D design, the Digital Design Team developed keychain designs using Tinkercad and Cura.
Members learned how to control and modify objects using Cura, which allowed them to translate objects into x & y planes to create the shapes and text they wanted to print. They also created cookie cutter designs through Cookiecaster, a program that allows you to customize your own cookie cutters, by creating shapes from images found online.

 

The Josie Robertson School of Music and Art is supported, in part, by: public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.