In the latest Around Town column, news about a Palo Alto artist's contribution to The Hero Art Project, students who were deemed champions in the Santa Clara County National History Competition and a Kitten Season awareness campaign.
IN TRIBUTE … Many locals have spent the past year recognizing essential workers during the pandemic by holding a nightly applause, producing masks or delivering meals, among other acts. Palo Alto resident Elizabeth Lada utilitized her artistic talent for "The Hero Art Project" by Arthouse.NYC, which pairs artists with the families of health care providers who have died from COVID-19 for a portrait of their loved one.
Lada offered her services to the New York gallery, which assigned her to produce a painting of Dr. Frank Gabrin . Gabrin, 60, was a New York physician who became the nation's first emergency room doctor that died of the deadly disease on March 31, 2020, according to a story by The Guardian . With little personal protective equipment available last year, Gabrin used the same face mask for multiple shifts, which went against Food and Drug Administration guidance, the article states.
Lada was provided with a photo of Gabrin in the middle of last year to help her create the painting. "He seemed like a really compassionate person. I really wanted to show that compassion and earnest hard work in his eyes, but I also felt like there was a lot of pain going on there," Lada said of Gabrin, who was a two-time cancer survivor. Lada completed the painting in four weeks and sent the original piece to Gabrin's husband, Arnold Vargas, who was "touched and grateful."
The project's paintings were displayed in the gallery's window and a large screen in Manhattan for a few days. Arthouse.NYC is also currently sharing the portraits digitally through electronic kiosks set up in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles, Lada said.
GOING BACK IN TIME … Palo Alto students were among the winners of this year's Santa Clara County National History Competition. The judges selected the champions out of a pool of 43 entries from 81 students.
A total of 15 schools were represented in the contest that ran under the theme "Communication in History: The Key to Understanding." Participants were called to analyze the historical significance behind their chosen topic and share their findings through an exhibit, documentary, research paper, interactive website or dramatic performance.
Twenty-three entries by students from Palo Alto schools were named champions of the contest. The local champions hail from Castilleja School, JLS Middle School, Palo Alto High School and Silicon Valley International School. Mika Cham of Castilleja won an Excellence in Research Award for her paper in the junior division on "Suffragists Communicating through Cookbooks and Other Household Items." Castilleja's Dineo Molotsi, Anaika Walia and Raeva Parikh were recipients of a Diverse Voices in History Award for their group performance on "Untold History of Black Women's Suffrage Groups: Protests Against Race and Gender Restraints."
"We are very proud of our students, teachers, parents and schools who participated in National History Day, and thank the coordinators and judges from across Northern California, who made this virtual competition a success," Santa Clara County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said in a statement. The county champions move on to the California National History Day competition, which will be held online May 6-8. View a full list of this year's champions and runner-ups, plus information on the competition, here.
HERE KITTY KITTY … With spring comes warmer weather, flowering bulbs and … an abundance of kittens? It's true! The season is marked by a spike of new kittens, according to Pet Food Express, which launched its Kitten Season awareness campaign earlier this month.
Pets in Need, which operates Palo Alto's animal shelter, is among the 84 rescue and shelter organizations that have joined the campaign. The public is encouraged to adopt, foster or donate.
"The annual spike in kitten births is a reality for our communities where we know we can help make a difference," Pet Food Express President and CEO Michael Levy said in a statement.
The company aims to raise $300,000 to help local rescues and shelters. For more information, visit petfood.express/kittenseason.