Gala Buell, the art teacher at Bingham Middle School in Independence, was pouring punch and placing cookies on a table, waiting for her students to arrive at Art Squared, on The Independence Square, Thursday evening.

She was a bit nervous, a little apprehensive and totally excited as her students were going to be the first Independence school to display their art at the art commune at 111 North Main St., across the street from Ophelia’s.

Shortly before 6 p.m., the students began to arrive. Fifteen minutes later, students, their siblings and moms and dads filled Art Squared as they sought out their student’s individual pieces and marveled at the varying pieces of art.

“I’m thrilled,” said Buell, as she stood with Art Squared founder Sherry Pugh. “I didn’t really know what to expect tonight and it looks like most of my students and their parents are here to see their artwork.”

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No one had a bigger smile than Pugh, who met with officials of the Independence School District and offered her venue for a different school showing each month.

“I’m so excited,” said Pugh, whose own art has been displayed at Art Squared. “It’s fun to see the children come in with their parents, and watch them look for their pieces of art. This is why I wanted to do this. I want people in Independence to fall in love with art – all kinds of art.”

Buell backed that comment, adding, “We have two art shows at our school, but it’s mostly parents and grandparents who come to see the art. What makes this so special is that people who come into Art Squared are going to be able to see art from all the schools in Independence who are participating in this art exchange.”

One young artist, who arrived at Art Squared before heading off to basketball practice, was Lilly Miller, a 12-year-old seventh grader who had three pieces of art on display.

“Lilly has always been interested in art,” said her mother, Kelly, as members of the Miller family scanned the art screens for Lilly’s work. “We have a lot of art supplies at our house. When Lilly was in fifth grade, they had an art show and her work was picked by the judges to be framed and displayed in the school.

“We’re proud of her, very proud.”

When asked about her work, Lilly smiled and said, “I like art because it’s a good way to express myself, to express my feelings. I like to use all kinds of art – crayons, tempera and pastel (chalk). It’s really cool to be up here with my family and see all the other art students with their families.

“We’re proud of what we’ve done and want everyone to see it, not just people in our school.”

Buell said the display pieces were selected on a random basis.

“These pieces were not done just for this art show,” the nine-year veteran teacher explained. “They are some of the best works of art by my students and I’m so thrilled to have them at Art Squared for everyone to see and appreciate.”

The Bingham art students’ work will be on display through the end of the month. Truman High School will be featured in November.