Buy Art Not Drugs


This project has two main goals:

  1. Provide students an opportunity to have original art in their home.

  2. Provide students with an opportunity learn from original art,


  1. Artwork is for student purchase only. No adults, including parents of students and faculty, may purchase work.

  2. All proceeds will be used to continue to provide the best possible educational experience our students can have, with 100% of proceeds going towards them.

  3. Artists who donate may remain anonymous.

  4. Artwork will be priced from $1-10, or students can come up with a plan to earn credits toward buying a work, such as improving their grade or attendance.

  5. Students are required to write a thank you note on a postcard that will be sent to the artist.

  6. Before the art sale, art will be used in the classroom as a source for learning critique and curation. Any leftover art will remain for sale and for use in the classroom.

How it began:

I was sitting in the audience of a panel discussion at the annual Utah Art Education Association conference. Another raised his hand and asked how he can engage his “football player students” in his art class. The picture of Lebron James (not a football player, still a jock) popped into my head. The idea for a sale quickly followed. Two days later I presented the idea to my principal. He said he liked it and asked for a bit of time to think it though. At the end of the day, I talked to him again. We worked out a few details and I made the following post on Instagram and Facebook (original photo credit unknown, shirt designed by artist
Hebru Brantley)


One of my goals as an art teacher is to educate my students on the joy that can be found in having art in their home. “Buy Art, Not Drugs” provides students with an opportunity to spend a few dollars on an original work of art. Students will be encouraged to skip something for a day or two and use the money they saved to purchase art that they can enjoy for a much longer time. Instead of a bag of Cheetos, a soda, a coffee, or something else, they can take home a drawing, collage, or some other work of art that they appreciate. As part of the project, we will talk about various celebrity art collectors the students can identify with and why art collecting is important to those people, and how it can add to their own lives.

I teach at a public alternative high school and much of our student population is on free or reduced lunch. Money is tight. In order to make this work, art works will be priced from $1 - $10. 100% of proceeds will go back to the students, though making money is not the goal. Providing joy from art is the goal.

I don’t like asking for donations. I understand the work that goes into creating art. Instead of asking for completed paintings or drawings that you have spent hours on, please consider a quick study, drawing, collage, maquette, or other work that is simple but still beautiful. The goal is to have work that the students find interesting enough to want to take home. If you do want to send a finished painting, I won’t say no. Artwork done by students will also be included in the sale. The works do not need to be signed or associated with you in any way. Please only contribute works that are appropriate for a high school setting. Students will be encouraged to write a thank you and describe why they found joy in your work. If you include your name and address with the artwork, I will send the thank you to you. Please consider taking part in this project and please spread the word. Send donations by mail before November 1st to:

Attn: Justin Wheatley
Connection High School
501 E 3900 S
SLC UT 84107

The response was amazing! Here are just some of the comments from Instagram:

  • habbenink

    Count me in!

  • erikadonaghy

    @justinwheatleyart will do! This is such a cool idea!

  • k8hart88

    Fantastic idea. Thank you!


    Awesome!! I'll try to get something over!

  • justinwheatleyart thanks Crystal!

  • justinwheatleyart

    @habbenink awesome!

  • houseofmeggs

    @justinwheatleyart nice one, what a great initiative, I’ll send you a paper study 🙏🏻 will DM to follow up.

  • justinwheatleyart

    @houseofmeggs thanks so much! I’ve got some students that showed me your work. They are going to be stoked!

  • houseofmeggs

    @justinwheatleyart your welcome, I’m very stoked to hear that!!

  • justinwheatleyart sweet! Thanks Tyler! You should do it at LP.

  • caseyjexsmith


  • carmenduran_art

    Count me in! This is an amazing idea! Way to go

  • justinwheatleyart

    @carmenduran_art awesome! Thank you!

  • moffeezy

    I love this! So much! Yes, count me in.

  • moffettfineart

    And me!

  • pretty_minimal

    I have a little piece to give. Also, happy to do something to help with backstage/ boring details. If needed.

  • jhwilliamsfromtx

    My husband and I will contribute to this, too! EXCELLENT idea!!!

  • mrsmasterchief ‼️

  • wdouglasday

    @mbenn3tt thanks! @justinwheatleyart count me in, what a cool thing you are doing. Besides sending a piece or two, let me know if you need any other help. Now or in the future. Very impressed.

  • emilythecliff


  • gohomehayley

    @emilythecliff i dig this

  • lindanearon

    @mamahollsballs thanks for sharing

  • loveheartsart

    @rachdwils want to do this with me? 😁

  • rachdwils

    @loveheartsart cool! Let's do it!

  • jhwilliamsfromtx

    You're welcome. 😊

  • hilbates

    @shelby.lynn1 you should submit something :)

  • urbanluxelife

    I’m in, love this idea and would have been so excited about this when I was in school!

  • urbanluxelife

    @dubelyoo @katgoduco@jasonphillips_tattoos

  • justinwheatleyart

    @urbanluxelifeawesome! Thank you Toni!

  • capparellecreative

    @justinwheatleyart any Dodgers fans in Utah? I have a Max Muncy watercolor painting commemorating his walk off home run in the 18th inning during the WS!

  • justinwheatleyart

    @capparellecreativeWow! I see Dodgers jerseys all the time. We’ve got quite a few LA transplants.

  • shelby.lynn1

    @e.giblette we need to do this

  • hilbates

    @childspartyof8 you should have Maddie submit something for this

  • childspartyof8

    @hilbates I totally should! 🤔

  • funkefolklore

    local artist here and would love to contribute. Where would I be able to drop something off at? Awesome idea!

Soon, the art started pouring in!


Students choosing a work of art to critique:

Here is the critique form students used:


Here are some completed critique forms:

Our principal, a former math teacher, has been very supportive. I snuck a picture of him and another teacher he brought into my class to talk about the artwork after school.


The Day of the Sale

April 15th was the day of the sale. In all honesty, we had no idea what to expect. We had been talking about the artwork and the sale for almost two months and were still not quite sure if anyone would show up. When the time came, we had a steady stream of students coming through. By the end of the official sale, 31 works of art had found a new home. Our students body is around 250, so we considered the sale a success.


How the sale worked:

Leading up the big day, both Mr. Whiting and I had students make postcards. Mr. Whiting did a mixed media project, I did collage. The postcards could be used on the day of the sale for a small discount on a work of art. This was part of making the artwork as accessible to students as possible without just giving it away.

The Friday before, we held a sale preview during lunch invited students to come in and see everything that would be available and the prices of each piece ($2-$10). We asked students to come prepared with the exact amount in cash to make the transaction as quick and simple as possible.

On the day of the sale, our school secretary came ready with receipts and $50 in change. We set up a table at the door for her. Next to her table, we had a volunteer with a stack of postcards and some pens. As part of the purchase, students were required to write a thank you card that will be sent to the artist whose work they purchased. If the student did not bring their own post card, they could use one from the stack. An address label was attached to the back of each artwork in the days leading up to the sale. This made it easy to peel the address label off the artwork and attach it to the postcard.

Just outside of the door, another volunteer waited with a camera. She took pictures of the students with the artwork they purchased so we can send the artists who donated a photo of the person who bought their work. (Note to self: get email addresses of artist who donate).

Students write thank you post cards before purchasing work.

Students write thank you post cards before purchasing work.

Some of the many happy students!

Huge thanks to the artists that contributed:

David Dibble, Provo UT

Sally Tharp, NY NY 

Molly Wright, Huntersville NC  

David Habben, Holladay UT

Katie Willes, Sandy UT

Merrill Chertok, Kirkland WA

Angela Reichman, Tucson AZ

Lauri Storey, Kaysville UT

Rebecca Cooper, Cedar City UT

EK Williams, Fort Mill SC

Steve and Tonya Vistaunet, Provo UT

Jeff Sedgwick, Lehi UT

Annalee Wood, Kaysville UT

Alyssa Hamilton, Cedar Rapids IA  

Wendy Margrave, Menifee CA

Meghann Tucker, Papillon NE

Sue Martin, South Jordan, UT

Erica Putis, San Diego CA 

Christina Stanley, Salt Lake City UT 

Julia Blake, Wellesley, MA

Crystal Despain, Windsor CO

Sandy Kroll, Jericho NY

Carol Vannorman, Weekie Wachee FL

Carolyn Mackin, Wellesley, MA

Funke, Midvale UT

Douglas Day, Centerville, UT

Lisa Chappel, Mesa, AZ

Shannon McCarthy, Atkinson NH

Kara Aine, Sandy UT

Laura Ramirez, Salt Lake City, UT

Bryan Rolon, Salt Lake City, UT

Evelyn Misner, Sparks NV  

Jodi Lee, North Salt Lake UT

Jenni Eames, Salt Lake City, UT 

Gretchen Vanderbunt, Clarksville, GA 

Betty Taylor, Roseburg, OR

Erika Donoghy, Dillon CO

Kathy White, Pampa TX

Spencer Olsen, Nashville TN

Joa Waehlte, Lynnwood WA

Virginia McLean, Lyman SC

Kerensa McConnell, Arlington, VA

Rebecca Kiser, McMinnville, OR

Delaney Corker, Swoope, VA 24479

Bruce and Donna Agee, Gardnerville NV

Rare Press, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Meggs, Milo HI

 Susan Breed
Kansas City, MO

Charmaine Hirsch
Kansas City, MO

Jeanette Weaver

M Billiard
Kansas City, MO

Christina Keith
Prior Lake, MN

Sandi Burke
Reno, NV

Melanie Allington
West Jordan UT  

Kerri Cole
Englewood CO

Trevor Howard
Saratoga Springs UT

Patrick J. Rasmusen
Salt Lake City, UT

Ashley Metzger
Stansbury Park, UT

Lisa Orwig
Reno, NV

Pam Taylor
Sparks, NV

Ryan Moffett
Clearfield, UT

Brian Koch
Eagle Mountain, UT

Jessica Williams
Salt Lake City, UT

 Nathan Williams
Salt Lake City, UT

Brad Singley
Renton, WA 

Haley Adams

JC Spock
East Berlin, CT

Bridget Greci
Restin, VA

Denise Savage
Reno, NV

Natasha Teymourian
San Diego, CA

Jennifer Seeley
South Jordan, UT

Meredith Winn
Center Conway, CT

Camille Wheatley
Holladay, UT

Suzi Olson
Salt Lake City, UT

Kathleen Rietz
Chicago, IL

Many anonymous donors