Ashwaubenon artist hopes to give back with new school

(Photo Credit: WLUK/Jared Harrington)

A world-traveled artist and Ashwaubenon High School graduate is returning to his roots to open an art school.

Brandon Badeau has been a busy guy in the 15 years since he was hanging around, painting a whale mural in Ashwaubenon.

"29 countries now, lived in Hawaii seven years ,and from there jumped over to Australia, New Zealand, Bali. I was in the Philippines, all over South America and Eastern Europe as well," said Badeau.

During all that time, the whale mural has survived on its brick wall on South Oneida Street behind Walgreens. Now, just down the street, Badeau hopes to give back some of the art knowledge he has picked up in his travels.

"If there is a want and a need for it, then we would actually like to come up with a curriculum for it," said Badeau.

Badeau and his business partner, Tracey Sorensen, have spent the past five months preparing to open the Ashwaubenon Academy of the Arts and Inkspirations Body Art and More. A wall divides the two operations. The plan is for the body art studio proceeds to fuel the nonprofit K-12 art school.

"It's not a point of making money at it," said Badeau. "The money side is on the other side of the studio. This is to give back. It's not about that. It's about the kids."

Children have already been learning while helping get the school ready.

"When we have several kids sitting on the floor and doing things and painting and they leave here with this big smile and they know they are going to be a part of something, that's to me exactly why we're doing what we're doing," said Sorenson.

Right now the school is collecting donations. The goal is to collect enough to open in a few weeks. Information on donating can be found on the Ashwaubenon Academy of the Arts Facebook page.

"Right now, we have the area and it's painted, but we don't have a lot of the tools and things we need for classes to keep the prices low, we need that," said Sorenson.

Before it opens, school organizers also hope to hear feedback on what classes people would like. They say if there is demand to learn something, they'll try to teach it.

Organizers say classes will cost money, but hope to offer scholarships for some courses.

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