Neil Waldman’s paintings and prints are included in prestigious collections around the world. His works have garnered him many honors, including a gold medal from the United Nations. Neil has also designed postage stamps for thirteen nations. He has illustrated nearly 50 books, and is also the writer of many of the most recent books.
That is why I was very excited to receive this note from him:
I’ve been creating a new not-for-profit Bronx publisher, to benefit the young artists of the Fred Dolan Art Academy, a free Saturday school I created in the Bronx. “AL and TEDDY,” our first title, will be released this Summer, and I’m trying to spread the word that every penny earned from sales of the book will be used to buy colored pencils, sketchpads, oil paints, and pizza. I’ll be sending you 2 Youtube videos. The first, “Dream School: The Fred Dolan Art Academy,” tells the story of our kids and their remarkable artwork. The second, “AL and TEDDY,” is the trailer for our new book. I think you’ll enjoy them both!
Waldman is an art instructor for the State University of New York at the Westchester Art Workshop.
His books for children have won many awards, including the Washington Irving Award (Bring Back the Deer, The Highwayman), the Parents Choice Award (Nessa’s Story), the Christopher Award (The Gold Coin), and the National Jewish Book Award (Next Year in Jerusalem). His illustrations and designs have graced the covers of a number of Newbery winners, including Hatchet, The Winter Room, and A Fine White Dust. Waldman’s memoir, Out of the Shadows: An Artist’s Journey, was published by Boyds Mills Press in 2006. He holds a B.F.A. and an M.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology.
In 2006, Waldman founded the Fred Dolan Art Academy in the Bronx, a free preparatory school for underprivileged high school artists. During its first six years, seventeen students graduated from the academy. Today, all seventeen are attending art college.
The school is an intensive preparatory program in the visual arts for low-income students in grades 8-10 enrolled in Children’s Aid’s Bronx-based community school programs.
Dolan Academy is a school year program, engaging 27 students for three hours (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) each Saturday. Every student spends equal time each session on drawing and painting, developing their visual acuity and creating a range of artistic ability. The Academy’s overall goal is that, by the time the students complete high school, they will have developed work portfolios that will make them truly competitive candidates for art colleges.
To do this successfully, the program emphasizes strong academic standards. Teachers work with college counselors to determine the best combination of grades, tests and artistic portfolios that each student will need in order to successfully enter college.
By maintaining such strong standards, and training students to focus on their artistic evolution, the Fred Dolan Art Academy is offering a rare opportunity for young artists to follow a path they would otherwise never imagine possible.