Throughout history, all the way back to the beginning of mankind, art has been a vital means of expression whether it be visual or performing. Continuing the evolution, the Artist Teen Mentor Project, through the Rogue Gallery and Art Center, has given Southern Oregon high school students a chance to express themselves in the visual arts and also the possibility of exhibiting in a juried show at the gallery.
Out of many applicants, the artworks of Eagle Point High School seniors, Jennifer Augino and Kevin Chavez, were chosen to be in the exhibit that runs through April 21. At the same time, the Best of the Best Area High School Artists exhibit at the Grants Pass Museum of Art garnered a blue ribbon for EPHS senior, Richard MacLaren III. MacLaren won a Best of Show in his category, announced EPHS art teacher Judy Rosensweig. That show includes art from over 20 high schools and runs through April 29. Both exhibits showcase the extraordinary talents of young artists.
Nine other EPHS students also have art in the Grants Pass exhibit. They are Serena Bennett, Alejandro DeLaCruz, Christofer Ducs, Dalton Fenner, Melissa Glenn, MacKenzie Goldsmith, Mindy Harrison, Stephanie Kerr and Kathleen Williamson, said Rosensweig.
In the Rogue Gallery mentor program, Augino studied Digital Photography with Michael Davis at Rogue Community College. She said, “It was a huge learning experience. I always took pictures but did not know how to use my camera.” Although she is mostly interested in outdoor photography, the photo in the exhibit is of her five-month-old nephew. Augino plans to pursue photo journalism at Southern Oregon University.
Even though, “I was into (traditional) art since I was little,” Chavez worked with glassblower Deborah Williams to make two glass masks of a boy and a girl that he named for his grandparents, Helena and Plecido. Chavez learned to make clay molds, use powdered glass and a kiln. When he studies to be a school counselor at RCC and SOU, Chavez will also take art classes. After the exhibit, the masks will go to Mexico to his grandparents.
MacLaren likes to think outside the box. He designed a six-piece folding book with a space theme inspired by Dr. Who, the British sci-fi TV show. Although MacLaren painted and sketched humans using acrylics for several years he was tired of flat artwork. Using school materials, his mixed media entry had stars, figures, lots of techniques and a quote by American astronomer Carl Sagan that includes the words, “species lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.” MacLaren’s feeling about garnering a blue ribbon, “I saw all this wonderful art—and then I got it. Amazing,” he modestly exclaimed.
Getting the opportunity to participate in the mentor program and exhibit in the juried Rogue Gallery art show was not easy. Students had to get references, apply for the program and then undergo an intensive interview before they were paired with a mentor, according to Rosensweig who is not only an art teacher but a working artist. In fact, Rosensweig, a native Oregonian, entered an art show at the gallery back when she was in the tenth grade.
Another hurdle was the cost of $200 to $300 to be paired with a mentor for 15 hours over three months from January through the end of March. Although there were scholarships through the gallery for some of the cost, the students were responsible for their materials and a $125 stipend paid to their mentor, said gallery executive director Jules Masterjohn.
Masterjohn said not only did students learn skills from the mentors but they saw what it takes to be a professional artist. Rosensweig said, “Students see art is a real thing and what they do matters. It keeps students engaged. It is overwhelmingly inspiring to me.” Both women are concerned that people will forget the importance of the arts in these tough economic times.
The nonprofit Rogue Gallery and Art Center is in its 51st year and located in what is now referred to as the arts and culture district. “It is the gathering place for visual arts,” said Masterjohn. In its present location since 1982, the gallery offers a full range of classes, including summer camps for kids. There are generous scholarships available.
For a full listing of programs and classes go to www.roguegallery.org. The gallery is at 40 South Bartlett St., Medford. The Grants Pass Museum of Art is at 229 SW “G” St. For more information call 541-772-8118 or 541-479-3290 respectively.
By Margaret Bradburn
For the Independent