An Educator's Eye Art Teachers Pick Their Favorites

Article excerpt

Byline: Kari Hartman Daily Herald Staff Writer

It's fairly obvious Cindy Brown, Angie Muchow and Bill Brittain are teachers at heart.

The three Naperville educators recently visited the city's downtown to peruse the decorated Fiberglas giraffes that line the streets.

They walked from statue to statue, lingering at each long enough to look it up and down, from the hooves planted on the sidewalk to the tip of its snout almost 6 feet up.

The educators' eyes brightened and smiles broadened as they talked color, design, texture and themes.

They jotted notes, they talked about incorporating the Naperville United Way's Baby Giraffe Walk project into their classrooms, and they let their excitement bubble when they came to a statue where things all came together.

And, like any good teacher, they had something upbeat to say about every single work of art and offered positive suggestions in places where a few giraffes could have used a bit more work.

The three art teachers recently hit the streets to rate the giraffes for a Daily Herald story. They saw as many giraffes as they could and picked their top five for their own reasons.

As they looked over the giraffes, they talked about what makes good art.

Brown teaches art at Cowlishaw Elementary, Muchow at Meadow Glens Elementary and Brittain at Naper and Ellsworth elementary schools.

When art meshes

It takes a good background, nice shading, an appropriate blend of colors, an interesting texture.

And what makes a decorated giraffe a good work of art varies a little, depending on which teacher you ask.

"For me, a lot of it is color," Muchow said.

Vibrant purples and blues were often what caught Muchow's eye as she looked from giraffe to giraffe.

And the three teachers agreed one of the big keys to a good- looking giraffe was a design with a message or theme that was easily detected.

"We don't have to guess what the theme is," Brittain said when the three stood in front of Ya Mon, an island-themed giraffe sponsored by Wehrli World Travel.

With palm fronds sprouting from its head, a palm tree trunk painted on its neck and islands painted over bright blue on its body, the giraffe announced clearly what it was all about - vacationing.

"It takes you to another place," Muchow said.

It's obvious where Baby Joe Naper takes onlookers, too.

With paintings of Centennial Beach, the Riverwalk, Naper Settlement and pigs that represent Ribfest, the giraffe with a sky blue background is all Naperville and is named after the city's founder. …