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Not many artists can say that they had their first gallery show when they were in the fourth grade. But they're not the artists now featured in I Have a Dream...Dreamers' Art Exhibit at NEXT Gallery. The idea behind the show was simple: During Denver Arts Week, and in conjunction with the I Have a Dream Foundation, NEXT's adult artists each created a goodie bag filled with art supplies and an inspirational letter, and then one afternoon last month a group of fourth-graders from Columbine Elementary created their own works of art from those supplies. "Looking at this, I see the freedom of children's expression," says NEXT coordinator Catherine Carilli. "The joy of creation, of a young mind creating something that is strictly to have fun, with no parameters on it."

The minds might have been young, but Carilli thinks the children received valuable guidance from the older, more experienced artists. "I think it helped them see that art is something you can do your whole life, and you can enjoy being creative your whole life and then share it with other people," she notes. See the results of this artistic collaboration -- pieces that range from paintings to sculptures and collage -- at an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. tonight at NEXT, 3659 Navajo Street. For more information, call 303-433-4933 or visit
Dec. 23-Jan. 8, 6-10 p.m., 2011


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