Char Pribuss, art collector and co-founder of Paintbrush Diplomacy, was guest speaker last week at a reception for Menlo College’s first art show of the year, featuring a collection of art created by children. The exhibit, on display in the College’s Administration building, includes works from 40 young artists from all over the world. Char (pictured below, right) shared her story about the nonprofit organization that she created together with her husband Rudy over 30 years ago.
“When my husband and I visited China in the early 1970s, it was very difficult for Americans to get permission to travel there,” she recalled. “This was before normalization of relations with Communist China. I lit up with excitement when we were able to visit China because it was a chance to bring something together that wasn’t there.
“We brought with us some small pieces of art created by children from the United States just to show them something about our culture. My husband, who was born in East Germany, had always felt that if young people knew something about each other, we wouldn’t have the problems that we have.
“When our Chinese hosts reciprocated with 60 brush paintings by Chinese children, we cried. We had witnessed an inspirational, life-changing moment in time that in essence, was born from something that was completely accidental.”
Paintbrush Diplomacy grew to become a non-profit organization and a San Francisco Bay Area success story. It has facilitated exchanges of art and personal stories between more than 10,000 children across the globe in 100 countries annually.
“You have to get in there and do something; you can’t just grouse about it,” said Pribuss, a charismatic 93-year old. “I’m an artist but I don’t paint a lot any more because these paintings are much better!”
The show will be on view in the Menlo College Administration Building from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, until March 8, 2013.
Painting titled “Kanamachi” by Tasmiah Hasin, age 9