For The Love of Art

Three of Pacific Grove High's students on display at Carmel Art Association

February 12, 2016



Last Saturday, the Carmel Art Association held an opening reception for its “For the Love of Art” competition and exhibition. The show, which consisted of seventy-four high school juniors and seniors from all over Monterey County, will be open to the public until the end of February. Students who participated in the show were picked by their schools’ art teachers or offered to submit a piece by the local Youth Arts Collective, located in downtown Monterey.

Three of Pacific Grove High School’s seniors have their artwork on display in the show: Nikki Azerang, Liam Headley, and Elizabeth Loh. All three students are YACsters–members of the aforementioned organization that goes by its abbreviated nickname “YAC”–and were asked to represent YAC as PGHS students (YACsters from other schools also represented YAC in the show). Contestants were all given a smooth square of wood and no restrictions, asides from the open-ended prompt that is also the name of the show: “For the Love of Art.” Artists had around a month to prepare their piece from December 2015 to mid-January of this year.

Nikki Azerang, a PG high student in the show, remarked that the show was enjoyable, but found the venue a bit crowded and hot. “But I saw Ms. Tonkin, which was exciting! Some of her students were in the show, too,” Nikki remarked, as she recounted running into the former PGHS Computers teacher as one of the highlights of her night. The layout of the show was also appealing to many, as Nikki described the exhibition to be captivating. “They had all the high schoolers’ pieces lined up on the wall like a grid…full of different colors and styles; it was surprisingly cohesive.” When asked about her own artistic process, she admitted, “I don’t have a ‘process’ per se. I just do whatever and hope it works. So for this piece I came up with the idea to do a siren based on a Marie-Antoinette-esque wig I saw in Williamsburg back in November [during the high school’s Close-Up Program to Washington D.C.].”

The competition aspect of the show is not an aggressive one; there are simply ribbons handed out to winners under categories such as “Mixed Media.” Additional ribbons were also given as Honorable Mentions. PGHS’s Elizabeth Loh received First Place for Mixed Media with her piece, titled “Lake House.” Her piece was done in acrylic and colored pencil, with paper images layered on top of the wooden canvas for a three-dimensional feel. “The show was really amazing! There were so many artists represented there, and it was so interesting to see how each artist responded to the challenge of painting on wood,” Elizabeth replied after the opening reception Saturday night.

Furthermore, the contest allows for many students a glimpse into the life of a professional artist, as the teenagers’ pieces are hung in a gallery for the public to observe and even buy. One-hundred percent of the sales go to the respective artists, which was a pleasant surprise for students because earnings are usually reduced to nearly fifty percent in the art world (artists must split earnings with galleries in which their artwork is being displayed).

Liam Headley’s “The Window,” was purchased by the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. He was excited when he found out that CHOMP, a big supporter of local art, bought his piece that had been inspired by Ventana, Pico Blanco, and poet Robinson Jeffers. The edges of the wooden panel in “The Window” are the words to “Oh Lovely Rock,” one of Jeffers’s poems. Liam spends his free time making art at YAC or finding inspiration from hiking. He has an interest in poetry and Eastern philosophy, and looks to a connection with nature to keep him at peace. “I pursue that connection [with nature] through backpacking and volunteering with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance Trail Crew and through my docent training at Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House in Carmel.” Liam explained in an interview, “I was inspired to create this piece by my first ever hiking trip in the Ventana Wilderness, and by the way the poem resonates with my experience in nature and my view of the world.”

Although the artists submitted pictures of their work for the slideshow, photographs cannot do any art justice. For a month, these pieces will be on display at the Carmel Art Association galley, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and located on Dolores, between 5th and 6th, in Carmel. So before February ends, take a quick trip down to Carmel to see the three pieces in person–and to admire the culmination of Monterey Bay’s incredibly talented youth artists.



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