Guardian One, a painting by local artist Charlie Newton breathes life into his young students’ paintings and drawings creating structure by overlaying their work with thick paint, circles and bold lines that draw the eye to the individual works created by the children. Charlie Newton breathes life into his students as they experiment with drawing, paint and textures. Newton founded Splash Youth Arts Network in 2012 to provide free art instruction to children growing up in College Hill Courts, the low-income housing project where Newton spent his childhood.
“We were very, very poor, some of the poorest people in the projects, but we didn’t know it because my mother and father was with us and we had love.” Most of the children Newton works with come from single parent families, and Charlie and his wife Iantha are positive role models for this community. Newton has a quiet manner, but he brooks no nonsense. His guidance and mentoring offer children the opportunity to express their creativity in a safe, structured, loving environment.
Charlie Newton was inspired from a young age to pursue a career as an artist and he never faltered. He has been successful, acquiring multiple college degrees and showing his work in Europe and across the southeastern US.
Charlie and Iantha, are both artists active in the Chattanooga community. Charlie’s heart has always been with the children living at College Hill Courts. “We had something, my wife and I, that we could give.” And it is obvious that their giving creates an atmosphere where the students feel loved, encouraged and appreciated for every effort.
Their students at Splash range from preschool to late teens, and the Newtons are convinced that art can make a positive impact in every student’s life.
Splash students’ art is currently being shown at the Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel conference center on the 17th Floor, 605 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga. Call 423-756-3000 to schedule an appointment to see the show that features 33 pieces by students plus a variety of work by Charlie and Iantha Newton. The children’s work is amazing, and ranges in price from $50 to $600. When a painting is sold, the student receives half the money with the other half going to support Splash.
Involvement in the arts, nonprofits and community initiatives is a part of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel’s culture. Their goal is to rotate the art show in the building every 6 months. They would like the opportunity to host a show with the students’ participation, but if COVID prohibits that kind of gathering, they are considering a virtual art show.
Aricia Gallaher, a member of the firm’s art committee believes “every child deserves the opportunity to participate in the arts. At Chambliss, one of the things we strive for is innovation: How can we do something really unique? How can we give back?” The group was very impressed with Charlie and Splash Youth Arts and the impact they were having on an under-resourced community. Their partnership with this arts nonprofit demonstrates their commitment to the Chattanooga community, and opens a new world of opportunity for children.