Inaugural youth art show deemed success

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This article was published 04/04/2014 (3057 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After the paintings were hung and the sketchbooks were put out on display, Chumani Lawson felt some apprehension about putting her artwork on display.

The 17-year-old exhibited work at the inaugural Youth in Elmwood Arts and Recreation (YEAR) Art Show at the Elmwood East Kildonan Active Living Centre (180 Poplar Ave.) on March 29. Lawson acknowledged there were some personal scenes depicted in her work, and it was difficult to show them off to an audience of approximately 150 who attended the two-hour show.

“For me, it’s like someone peeking into a diary,” she said. “For the first time ever, I had random strangers looking at my artwork, and at first, I wanted to run and close the book and steal it back, but at the same time, I’m like ‘I have to man the door, this isn’t so bad, it’s not like anyone is going to steal the book.’

Supplied photo Two attendees admire work at the Youth in Elmwood Arts and Recreation's inaugural art show on May 29.

“After the first couple people, it kind of died down for me, and I’m ‘OK, I can handle it.’”

One of Lawson’s scenes depicts an area where she and her first boyfriend marked some of their milestones, while another is a rural scene she imagines she’d like to live. While she doesn’t necessarily intend to pursue art as a career — her path is leading her toward being a mechanic, she said — Lawson always wants it to be a part of her life.

Approximately 30 young artists exhibited over 100 works at the show including paintings and sketchbooks. Works of seven artists were printed onto greeting cards for sale, and the vast majority sold. Paintings were sold for anywhere from $6 to $10 and approximately 15 pieces sold. Two other works were raffled off.

Instructor Thora Barnett, who is also affiliated with the Local Colour Art Group, is an experienced artist who had been through the process of getting shows together before, and was able to guide YEAR staff through their first exhibition.

“I just have the attitude that it’s going to go fine,” Barnett said. “It was a little stressful trying to get everything together.”

YEAR youth co-ordinator Dina LaBillois said the program initially got started in September 2012, and students were first inspired to hold a show after being invited to one put on by Local Colour.

“Initially, the kids thought ‘Oh, that’s a fancy gig, we’re going to get kicked out,’” LaBillois recalled. “But after attending, seeing how it’s done, and seeing that there artists are making money, that kind of lit a fire.”

After the success of this first show, the organizers are hoping to put another one together in late summer, perhaps in the parking lot of the Elmwood Community Resource Centre at 200 Levis St. LaBillois also hopes to invite other local artists to exhibit at the show.

In addition to making art for the show, LaBillois noted students also spent weeks making the dainties enjoyed by attendees.

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