LETTERS

Kentish Armory is home for arts center

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An Open Letter in Support of the Warwick Center for the Arts:

I am writing this letter in response to recent news that Warwick's Mayor Solomon wishes to evict the Warwick Center for the Arts from the Kentish Armory, located in the Apponaug village. I'm sure many people will come out in support of the center, detailing its many accomplishments and contributions to the community. My story is a bit different.

I have been an arts instructor for quite a few years. I teach what is referred to as, "the commercial arts." While we can all acknowledge the impact these arts have had in recent years, through comics, movies, and video games, just to name a few; we all must also realize that these arts have enriched, not just the entertained, but the artists who make it possible. This extends to the many young art students that derive inspiration from these various genres. These arts are accepted and just now beginning to be encouraged in our young artist community. This has not always been the case.

I grew up in Warwick, less than two miles from where the center is located, and was one of those young artists interested in these same commercial arts. Despite practicing from a young age, and creating my first viable comic strip at 15, no one in the community or the school system had the first idea of how to guide me on my journey to becoming an artist. I struggled for many years before I finally realized my boyhood dream of becoming a cartoonist, and publishing my comic strip. I have now been working as an illustrator, cartoonist, and caricaturist for more than 20 years.

I determined that, if I could aid young students who expressed an interest in the arts, I would avail myself of that opportunity. The "Art Museum," as it was then known, provided me with that opportunity. Being centrally located, recognizable, and accessible, it provided the perfect spot to allow me, and many other artists and instructors to begin the important task of guiding and inspiring young students to learn, create, and build a life as contributing, inspiring citizens, while, most importantly, developing critical minds with independent thought.

I feel that removing the center from the Kentish Armory site would constitute a paradigm shift in their long history which will takes years to recover from, severely impacting the young minds that might not be able to make the transition. Due to this, as well as other factors, it is my sincere wish that the center remain where it has been for so many years.

Gerald Shippee

Warwick

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