Beanstalk Foundation

What's right with Colorado is right next door.

Arts Street

Getting to the Art of the Matter

Arts Street empowers underserved students to artistic and vocational greatness

Stella Yu founded Arts Street to engage students in the arts, expression and freedom. It provides the opportunity to learn and create to youth whose school life or home life doesn’t afford them an easel, a box of colored pencils, and the space to get out of their heads and into their hearts. Arts Street is also about job-training and practical experience. The program also teaches perseverance, effort, planning, creativity and critical thinking. Students work together to see large art projects and installations through from conception to completion. They call them Team Jobs, and each is designed like a professional contract, allowing the participants to experience working as a team to meet a client’s goals. All of the programs at Arts Street are designed to engage the artistic heart, and to provide the rational mind with valuable experience. Most importantly though, they prove to kids that you can be an artist and make a living.

From Small Packages

Arts Street Founder, Stella Yu, proves the old adage about the origins of Big Things

An ant can lift up to 50 times its own body weight. A mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of nickel, sometimes even smaller. A single ladybug will eat more than 5000 aphids (a creature roughly ¼ its size) in its lifetime. And as anyone who saw the ho-hum Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones can attest, Yoda, despite his stature, is a wicked, lightsaber-wielding warrior.

Great things come in small packages. Ants are amazing, mice are malleable, ladybugs are lupine, and Jedi do judo. So it should be not at all surprising that Arts Street founder Stella Yu, her diminutive physique notwithstanding, is as energizing as one hundred car batteries, as motivated as a bear outside a honey store, and is as intense as a circus fire (Give that last one a second).

Smart mouse

Stella Yu is the mightiest of mice. She has been lacing up and kicking butt at Arts Street since she started the program more than 15 years ago. Stella is herself a classically trained artist. She holds a Masters in Arts Education and was an MFA candidate in Painting and Printmaking from the University of Denver. But that’s only the first aspect of her incredible might and mastery. She has vision, that insatiable desire to set and achieve goals, and that sets her apart.

But beyond her skill and passion, it’s her insight, that means the most. Stella saw the kids who doodled in the margins at school, the kids who were always sketching or sculpting or folding or shaping, and she saw that most of those kids would never be able to harness their passion, their drive to create, and apply it to a job they could love as adults. She set goals, made a plan and dove in.

Educate the people

No more would the talented margin-sketcher go uninspired. Instead, she stepped in to teach, imparting ways that raw talents can become valuable ones. She can help turn a doodle into a logo, or a cartoon drawing into an opportunity to learn computer animation. She can give a group of students with a story idea the power to become filmmakers.

But Stella’s not only focused on art. Art training is just another part of that incredible vision. That margin-sketcher will learn how to conceive of a big project, how to plan, how to execute, how to revise and rework and how to accept both success and failure. We can’t even begin to sum up all the big things that come in Stella Yu’s mighty small package.

One more fact about small things: they’re harder to see, so they’re almost always going to surprise you.

Awards and Honors

  • 2006 Mayor’s Office for Education and Children (MOEC) Heavy Lifting Award
  • University of CO at Denver Alumni Assoc's Community Contribution Award
  • President's Committee on Arts and Humanities' Coming Up Taller Award