Print Cottonwood boys and girls create art for national tour
Written by Staff Reporter   
Saturday, 07 January 2012 00:00

Judging by all the colorful artwork on the walls at the Cottonwood branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona, any one of the dozens of works in pastel, chalk, colored marker or paint could advance to the National Fine Arts Exhibit that starts touring the nation Wednesday, May 2, in San Diego.

The year-round clubs fine arts program encourages artistic expression through classes, special events and fine arts exhibits, Cottonwood branch Art Coordinator Devon Artrip said.

Alex Espinoza, 11, right, and Alexis Rodriguez, 10, create new pieces on Dec. 27, while talking about the upcoming art show featuring the work of club members from the Cottonwood branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona. The show takes place at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse in Clarkdale on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 4 until 9 p.m.The program culminates in the National Fine Arts Exhibit, which premieres at the national conference, then tours the United States for one year. Displaying artwork in 10 media and four age divisions, the exhibit showcases fine arts programs at more than 1,000 participating clubs.

This year, a panel of local judges will choose winners for inclusion in the Pacific Region exhibit. Winners of the Pacific contest advance to the National Fine Arts Exhibit, which is displayed throughout the year beginning at the National Conference, Artrip said.

Using the interactive National Fine Arts Program Guide, club staff guide youth through various art projects with step-by-step instructions and instructional videos.

In Cottonwood, youth also receive a dose of art history when they learn about iconic artists and works. A recent exercise called on boys and girls to incorporate Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” into their drawings. Once drawn, students cut out photographs of their own face and placed them where Munch’s open-mouthed screamer appears.

Another exercise called on the youth to draw their favorite animals and again place their photo where the animal’s face would be.

“They’re not in school, meaning they are not being graded on their work,” Artrip said. “This gives them permission to go in a different direction creatively should they choose to do so.”

One assignment designed to teach about color called on the young artists to draw a multicolored chameleon disappearing into a particular color. One student took the assignment to another level by adding a leaf for the chameleon to perch on as it disappeared.

“We do things that allow them to expand and grow their creativity,” she said.

The lesson was not lost on 13-year-old Emily Rivera, whose colorful pastel drawing of rock monuments in the Grand Canyon took an abstract turn. Four multicolored stone spires displayed multiple layers side by side in the foreground separated by a saturated, fiery-red horizon receding into the distance.

Alexis Rodriguez, 10, showed off a three-dimensional pencil drawing of a beach house he imagined despite the fact he has never been to the beach before.

“I like to design houses,” Rodriguez said. “Devon is pretty cool. She taught me how to draw. I kept on practicing and practicing and eventually I got better.”

Rodriguez said he would like to be an architect when he grows up.

Not to be left out, Alex Espinoza, 11, used colored markers to draw a fight he imagined might take place between Iron Man and Superman, a battle between comic book heroes Espinoza said is common in video games. Espinoza depicts Iron Man shooting multicolored jets from his feet as he flies into Superman’s head fist-first. The red liquid running from Superman’s head hints at which hero Espinoza favors.

He wouldn’t mind being a comic book artist or video game designer, he said.

“Devon has been very good at teaching us,” Espinoza said. “She’s good at influencing us and making us creative.”

Rivera, Rodriguez, Espinoza and other club youth exhibit their work in Clarkdale from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Clark Memorial Clubhouse, 39 N. Ninth St. Their work will be judged by local artists and winners will be selected to advance to the Pacific Region contest.