Art Ready is a Mentorship Program designed to give high school students the opportunity to experience first hand what it is like to be a professional working in a visual arts discipline. Participating students meet and work with a wide range of artists from emerging to well-known. Students who complete Smack Mellon's Art Ready program are well informed, educated and prepared to make a decision about pursuing a future career in the arts.

Art Ready meetings take place Wednesday afternoons from 4:00-6:30pm, November 2, 2016 through May 24, 2017. From November-December 2016, students visit artists' studios, and complete hands-on art-making and portfolio development workshops taught by professional artists. Art Ready visits artists in the fields of public art, film, painting, sculpture, jewelry design, architecture, installation art, video and photography.

After the group has visited all the artists, each student chooses from among them an Artist Mentor to work with from late January to late May 2017. Students work on average 2.5 hours/week, and attend their mentorships in small groups. During the mentorship period, students continue to meet as a group for gallery and museum trips.

Art Ready culminates in an exhibition of work created during the program, in Smack Mellon's 5,000 square foot gallery space.


Art Ready is led by Kathleen Gilrain, Smack Mellon’s Executive Director, and Heather Darcy Bhandari, Director of Exhibitions and Program Manager of Art Ready. Ms. Gilrain is an artist and is certified in New York State to teach art K-12. She has teaching experience at the elementary school and high school level as well as several years teaching at Brooklyn College. Ms. Gilrain received her Mentor Supervisor certificates from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of NYC Center for Training and Professional Development.

Art Ready mentors are selected  with three criteria in mind: a varied group of professionals that represent the ethnic diversity of NYC, as well as diversity in visual arts disciplines and in keeping with Smack Mellon’s mission, a majority of the Mentors are women; an interest in sharing their knowledge, experience and skills with students; and success in their field. The majority of our mentors are past exhibiting or resident artists at Smack Mellon, and have substantial past mentoring and teaching experience.

Please visit our blog for a list of current mentors and schedules.


The program is open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors living in all areas of NYC who are interested in pursuing a career in the visual arts.


Applicants are required to complete an application form (signed by a parent/guardian), answer essay questions about why they are interested in the program and submit two samples of past work. 

Finalists will be interviewed and up to 20 students will be selected with these criteria in mind: their interest in pursuing a career in the arts, their ability to attend every session on Wednesday afternoons from 4:00-6:30pm, November 2, 2016 through May 24, 2017 and to complete a 4-month mentorship, and the quality of their application.


Please contact Heather Darcy Bhandari, Director of Exhibitions and Program Manager of Art Ready, at 718-834-8761 or heather@smackmellon.org


Smack Mellon’s Education Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, and with support from Select Equity Group Foundation, Exploring The Arts and Smack Mellon’s Members. 

Smack Mellon’s programs are also made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust, Lambent Foundation, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Gilbert Mackay Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., Iorio Charitable Foundation, and Smack Mellon’s Members.

Space for Smack Mellon’s programs is generously provided by the Walentas Family and Two Trees Management.

In-kind donations are provided by Artist & Craftsman Supply, Costco, Fairway, Trader Joe’s, and by Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education. Special thanks to Downtown Community Television.

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View Art Ready 2016 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2015 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2014 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2013 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2012 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2011 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2010 Exhibition photos

View Art Ready 2009 Exhibition photos