Art meets music at Tuba City High School Spanish Club gallery-style event

Classical string quartet Opus Ona performs in Tuba City during a Tuba City High School Spanish Club art night event. Rosanda Suetopka/NHO

Classical string quartet Opus Ona performs in Tuba City during a Tuba City High School Spanish Club art night event. Rosanda Suetopka/NHO

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - The Tuba City High School Spanish Club and teacher Teresa Orman could not travel to Spain this year, so they decided to put on a special night of art from the region that included live string quartet music and food and drink from the Spanish coast.

The two-hour art gallery experience was open to community members, teachers, parents and board members at Tuba City High School. The club hung 22 prints of paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso inside the two-story main classroom building at Tuba City.

Orman convinced Opus Ona, a professional string quartet from the Orchestra of northern Arizona in Flagstaff, to make the 150-mile round trip to Tuba City to play for free to create a cross-cultural experience for themselves and a new music audience in Hopi and Navajo country.

A large crowd turned out to hear and visit with Opus Ona and view some of the more famous Kandinsky and Picasso paintings while enjoying Spanish coffees and desserts prepared by the students themselves.

Melissa Collins Cripps directs Opus Ona and also plays cello for the group. She has played in a symphony setting for more than 20 years and was pleased to see how large an interest there was in classical chamber presentations on the reservation by local professional musicians. She said she hopes the group can return for more community events.

After hearing and learning more about classical music, being allowed to touch and handle the instruments and watching the professional musicians perform, several of the students expressed a desire for a formal music program in their school district.

The prints on display initiated discussion about art styles and graphic arts careers as well as what it would take to become a professional painter or sculptor, showing work in galleries in major cities and countries around the world.

Orman has put on two other art events with her students in the past. Last year's student sponsored art exhibition of Frida Kahlo's life and work was extremely successful, and judging from the capacity crowd at this event with Kandinsky and Picasso as the featured artists, there is indeed an interest in art work by major artists in Tuba City and Hopi villages that has yet to be satisfied.

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