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Art Teacher Shares the Beauty of Old Barns in Phoenix

A milk house and silo.
A milk house and silo.

Charlotte Arcadi has a deep connection to farming life. Her grandparents were homesteaders in Oklahoma until the Dust Bowl forced them and their children to find another place to farm, and that was upstate New York. The next generation eventually moved back to Oklahoma to continue the family farming tradition. Charlotte remained in New York State, and though she and her husband did not farm, she came to realize how very much farm life meant to her.

Charlotte had become an art and photography teacher at J.C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, and approximately 10 years ago she applied for a grant to do a photographic study of old barns in the Phoenix area. She remembers the students who worked on the project with her: Chris Cromie; Amanda Dullen; Mark Fisher; Casey Fowler; David Guertin; Lynette Klotz; Linnae Lehr; Katie Monterieff; Mike Perkins; Sara Renfrew; Neal Saarie; Suzanne Schond; Chad Zollo. The stated purpose of her project was to focus on the need to develop students’ visual literacy and increase their awareness and understanding of their physical and cultural environments for the study of local history. This project will also help develop student and community pride in their heritage and bring attention to the need for preservation of historically significant buildings.

Together, they were able to capture the beauty of the barns, which she calls, “ iconic symbols” of a priceless and wholesome chapter in American life. Time has passed, and sadly, Charlotte has lost her husband; but she is going on with her work, and will re-open her barn photos, this time digitally. One of her students, now Lynette Neumann, will present the program with Charlotte. Lynette is an art teacher at Jamesville-DeWitt.
Charlotte’s friend and fellow art teacher, Bonita Bergen, who also teaches art at J.C.B. in Phoenix, is planning to encourage her art students to represent one or more of the barns from Charlotte’s collection in a painting.

The public is invited to see Charlotte’s collection at the Schroeppel Historical Society building on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 7: P.M. The building is located at the corner of Main and Volney Streets in Phoenix. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.