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Posted March 29, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Young and talented

By Laetitia Clayton - lclayton@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Visitors to the Shenandoah Arts Council will be greeted for the next month by an array of colors and art forms in works created by young people from across the area.

Blues, greens, oranges and bright yellows will coexist with pencil drawings, sculptures and 3-D mixed media pieces as part of the statewide "Minds Wide Open" initiative, which focuses on women in the arts, and Youth Art Month.

"We're combining the two [exhibits]," said Tracy Marlatt, the art council's executive director. "This year we're focusing on juniors and seniors in the front gallery."

The young women are artists from area high schools, and have a chance to win $100 when the art is judged by a jury of professional artists, Marlatt said. The jury will select the "best in show," and the award money is to be used for either art supplies or to further their art education, she said.

The rest of the gallery will display works by younger children as part of Youth Art Month, which was pushed back a month because of the snowy winter, Marlatt said. In total, more than 90 pieces of art from 16 area schools and 28 teachers will be on display through April 28. The ages of the artists range from 4 to 18.

One area high school senior and her art teacher were on hand at the gallery recently to discuss the piece they have on display in the Minds Wide Open exhibit.

Amy Williams, 17, and art teacher Cindy Redmon, both from Skyline High School in Warren County, said they tried something a little different with Williams' piece they call "Old Yeller."

She did an acrylic painting on collage in a pop-art style, reminiscent of Andy Warhol, Redmon said.

The background of the painting is covered with car ads clipped from newspapers, while the foreground is a bright yellow, older-model Ford pickup. The painting took Williams about 12 to 14 hours to complete, she said, including making the frame. Before painting began, the technique included finding the photo of the truck and breaking it down into pieces using Photoshop software, Redmon said.

"Then I kind of threw in a twist for her," Redmon said, with the collage-style background. "I told her they had to be car ads."

Williams said she had to alter the painting some, because of copyright laws. So, she painted a whole new truck bed that wasn't in the photo. That won't be the case for future similar paintings, though.

When family members saw "Old Yeller," they wanted Williams to create paintings for them in the same style, but using photos of their own automobiles.

"She has six paintings in progress right now," Redmon said, including a Camaro and a Harley-Davidson.

Skyline has eight pieces total in the Minds Wide Open exhibit, Redmon said.

Williams, who has been painting for five years, said she plans to minor in art and major in math when she attends Bridgewater College in the fall.

"She has a lot of raw talent, and we recognized that early on with little miss Amy," Redmon said, adding that Williams not only takes all the art classes at the school, but also works independently.

"She will have six [art] credits instead of four," Redmon said. "So she has a wealth of work to show for it."

In the rear gallery, 5-year-old Morgan Sutphin, who is home-schooled, was admiring her watercolor painting of a fish with her mother, Courtney, and art instructor, Rita Kamler-Hester.

The large orange fish has hearts painted on it, and is offset by a bold blue background for the water.

Kamler-Hester, of Treehouse Music Studio in Winchester, said she was impressed with Morgan's skills at such a young age.

"We have a group class," she said. "They are learning pattern and repetition. She chose the colors. It's just a great piece of artwork."

Morgan's mother said she wasn't surprised, because blue and orange are her daughter's favorite colors and she does love to paint.

"It's her favorite thing," she said.

Kamler-Hester has work by two other students in the display as well.

"It's nice to have the kids see what other kids in the county are doing," she said. "It gives them ideas and inspiration."

The Minds Wide Open and Youth Art Month exhibits opened Saturday and will run through April 28. Shenandoah Arts Council is at 811 S. Loudoun St. in Winchester. Gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 667-5166. For more information on the Minds Wide Open initiative, which runs through June, visit vamindswideopen.org.

The Valley Educational Center for the Creative Arts and Blue Ridge Arts Council are also featuring student art in April and May.

VECCA will present a student art show with works by Shenandoah County middle and high school students through May 14, while the Blue Ridge ArtsCouncil's exhibit will continue until April 16.

The VECCA exhibit, on display at the County Government Center, at 600 N. Main St. in Woodstock, is an annual show that has been sponsored by VECCA for about 10 years, said Barbara Randel, its student art show coordinator. There are about 75 pieces in the show, she said, and they include all types of media.

The Blue Ridge Arts Council exhibit features work by Warren County K-12 public school students and is on display at the gallery at 305 E. Main St. in Front Royal. A special showing will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 15 during the Third Thursday ArtWalk.

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