PIEDMONT -- Spring brings the eighth annual birdhouse gala on May 17, a chance to acquire a stylish birdhouse or bird-inspired piece of art while supporting PAINTS (Promote Art in the Schools).

Without support from PAINTS, Piedmont elementary art teacher Karen Stanton would have run out of supplies in January, she said.

"PAINTS makes my job doable," Stanton said. "We (elementary art teachers) are not district employees. We get paid by the hour with no benefits. We love doing it if we are able to afford it."

The $80,000 raised by last year's birdhouse gala enabled the purchase of software and computer screens for students to learn digital art. A kiln was purchased for Piedmont High School, as well as clay, glazes, paints and other other art materials. The elementary school parents clubs pay the salaries of the elementary art teachers. Upper grades art teachers are district employees, she said.

Stanton and others are hoping a seven-minute documentary that is being developed to be shown to community groups, parents and corporate sponsors will help support visual literacy in the lower grades.

"Arts are very important. They foster young people thinking out of the box, taking risks, being innovative," Stanton said.

To that end, a host of artists are contributing birdhouses and works of art to be auctioned off at the gala, a yearly sold-out event.

Piedmont High art teacher Gillian Bailey has done a bird print, as well as Petaluma printmaker Sylvia Gonzales. Ken Rhoads has fashioned an Eichler style functional bird house, and Linda Raynsford is creating a metal sculpture. Piedmont High students are creating art works for auction as well.


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Encaustic painters from Piedmont, Lorna Strotz and Larraine Seiden, are producing artworks in the ancient method of adding color pigments to beeswax, applied on wood. There is offered for auction a mosaic garden fountain, as well as a Pixar tour.

"If a person doesn't find anything on which to bid, they can donate to the "Time for Art" auction that funds art teachers' time," Stanton said.

The Piedmont High School bird callers will put in an appearance at the gala to add to the fun.

Primary sponsors this year are George and Laurie Zimmer of the Men's Wearhouse, the Grubb Co. and Maureen Kennedy, plus numerous other smaller sponsors.

if you go
What: Eighth annual PAINTS Birdhouse Gala and Auction
When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. May 17
Where: at a Piedmont home
Tickets: www.piedmontpaints.org/