One night, two youth art openings

Touchstones gallery and the Oxygen Art Centre feature art by youth this month.

Maya Kacsmar-Mayoh and Michaela Smith contemplate their work and that of other L.V. Rogers and Mount Sentinel students at the youth art exhibit that opened at Touchstones on Friday.

L.V. Rogers students Michaela Smith and Maya Kacsmar-Mayoh mingled with the crowd at Touchstones Nelson on Friday night looking at dozens of paintings (including their own) by students from LVR and Mount Sentinel.

“I have always been an art kid,” says Smith. Asked if she wants to make a career of it, she replies “Yep, that is what I want to do. I know it is a risky thing to pursue a career in art. It has always been something that scared me, but recently I realized I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else.”

The works from LVR were based on the students’ study of artists in different historical styles. Many of the Mount Sentinel pieces were reactions to climate change. The work from both schools is the result of a planned process of teaching and workshops aimed at the eventual gallery show organized by guest curator Catherine McIntosh.

Some of the dozens of paintings at the Touchstones youth art exhibit. Bill Metcalfe photo

Seeing her paintings, and those of her classmates, on the wall in a gallery is “kind of surreal,” says Smith. “I have seen a lot of this art around the school, and to see them on this wall puts a different light on them. Putting them a gallery changes the paintings.”

Meanwhile, two blocks away at the Oxygen Art Centre is more youth art, this time from a group of six artists who graduated from SelfDesign High over the past six years. Having two youth art exhibits opening so close together on the same night looks like it was planned, but it wasn’t.

“It is a wonderful synchronicity,” says Oxygen’s executive director Miriam Needoba. “Wonderful because our youth arts festival this weekend is about celebrating youth culture and Touchstones has opened their exhibit at the same time.”

The path between the two venues was well-travelled on Friday night. Many viewers in each venue were heard commenting that they planned to go to the other next, or had already been there.

The atmosphere at Oxygen was more informal and a little edgier than at Touchstones.

Undine Clara Foulds at the Oxygen Art Centre with ‘Fridge.’ It’s part of ‘Reunion,’ an exhibit by several alumni of art programs at SelfDesign High. Bill Metcalfe photo.

The scene at the Oxygen opening, with participating artist Hannah DeBoer-Smith at right. Bill Metcalfe photo.

Undine Clara Foulds, 23, exhibited several pieces including some black and white photography, but the Star talked with her about Fridge, a collection of pieces of paper and notes that she found on her fridge or around her house: “grocery shopping lists and patterns for my bootliners and photos of me as a kid and tiny chicken scratches of notes to my boyfriend, to-do lists, drawings of my nieces I thought were unique, things that kind of show details I would not otherwise recognize in myself, because they are unconscious and habitual, tiny things that are on their own insignificant.”

But she doesn’t call herself an artist.

“I think I am getting there. I am trying to find out what is unique about how I see the world, and other people are encouraging me to get there. I have been so immersed in it for many years but it is not something I needed a label for. I never consider myself an artist per se, just a creative generative type.”

Sasha Baines brought a variety of work to ‘Reunion’, the Oxygen Art Centre’s youth art exhibit that opened on Friday and runs until March 6. Bill Metcalfe photo.

Across the room, Sasha Baines says she is busy putting together a career as a professional artist. She has a contract with a book publisher as an illustrator and she’s also freelancing and doing commission work.

“It came about accidentally. I was suggested [as a illustrator] by an author. It is word of mouth. I did not expect this, and it was not a plan of mine, but now I would not have it any other way.”

She says she is not quite making a full living at it yet, but adds with understated pride that she is working professionally as an artist at age 20.

Asked how long she has been a practising artist she thinks for a moment and replies, “Twenty years.”

Jude Moore, age 4, enjoyed the paintings at Touchstones. Bill Metcalfe photo.

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