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Youth art display 'free and easy'

March 08, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- About 40 of Stephanie Evan-Evera's Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School art students had their works displayed at the annual Youth Art Month show Sunday at The Arts Centre on West King Street.

In all, there were nearly 200 paintings, sculptures, collages, photographs and other objects of youthful imagination on display in the great downstairs hall of the historic building. They were the works of art students from Berkeley County's three high schools -- Martinsburg, Hedgesville and Musselman.

"This is more exciting than a professional art show," Evan-Evera said. "Here you tap into all that adolescent creativity that's unfettered by the problems of the world," she said. "It's free, easy and exciting, and a lot of fantasy."

Free, easy, exciting and a whole lot of whimsy to boot.

Take Jennifer Donaho's eyeglasses.

The work spans seven feet from earpiece to earpiece and stands about 3 feet tall. She was inspired by Swedish-American artist/sculptor Claes Oldenberg, who turned everyday objects into objects of art.

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"I made everything myself from foam core," said Donaho, 17, a senior at Martinsburg High School. "It just about fit into Mrs. (Karen) Barrett's car."

Barrett is art coordinator at Martinsburg High School and coordinates the youth art show, thought to be in its 20th year.

The paintings on both lenses of the glasses depict an Oldenberg painting of a large American city, Donaho said, though she wasn't sure which one.

"He takes everything and makes it big. I love how this turned out," Donaho said.

Second-year art students in grades 10 to 12 submit works to the show, Barrett said. Their work is not judged, but teachers in each high school select one favorite and the student who created it wins a $50 government bond.

A poster of a work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai that hangs in Eric Mathias' art classroom inspired the 16-year-old Martinsburg High junior to create his own copy. It shows Mount Fuji against a spray-painted blue sky crossed by ribbony white clouds. On its sides, the painting depicts Mathias' interpretations of Hokusai's waves.

Whimsy jumps out at a viewer of Matt Yates' impressionistic copy of another Oldenberg work of a 9-foot-high paper sack with french fries pouring out.

Yates' interpretation features a wine bottle covered in small patches of browncloth. It is hung on its side with its neck pointing down, pouring out a stream of banana-sized, yellow cloth french fries.

A Martinsburg High senior, Yates, 18, plans to study business at West Virginia University next year. He's thinking of hanging his sculpture in his dorm room.

Chris Adams, a lanky, 6-foot-8-inch Hedgesville High senior, brought several pieces showing his wide range of interests, from Norse paintings on small glass vases to a dollar bill with a cartoon face of George Washington peeking out of a corner.

"I had this cool idea to use a $1 bill so I had to include George Washington," Adams said.

The bill's slogan is, "Life is better with art."

Barrett said she gives her students different themes or art periods on which to focus for their show exhibits. She also encourages them to fit their images on items other than square or rectangular canvas. Past choices have been mailboxes and pink plastic garden flamingos.

This year's exhibits showed the works of famous artists on things like eyeglasses and shoes. 

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