A new generation of artists

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2006

Charcoal drawings, multimedia work, watercolor and traditionally inspired Native pieces made up just some of the nearly 200 pieces of local art that livened the Nugget Mall on Saturday and Sunday.

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The art for the two-day exhibit wasn't produced by professional artists Rie Munoz or Rob Roys, but by local elementary students from all over the district.

Juneau residents Steve and Bonnie Pennoyer came Sunday to the mall specifically to see the children's art. The Pennoyers, both artists practicing in glass, ceramics and paint, have grandkids, but not with art in the show.

Steve Pennoyer finds the youth art refreshing.

"Kids haven't learned rules," he said. "They aren't afraid of reaching out and doing something different."

Hanna Kim, a third-grade student at Gastineau Elementary School, searched up and down each panel of art spaced throughout the length of the mall. She found her piece, depicting a boy being pulled by a dog on a leash.

"We drew a picture of a story our teacher read," she explained.

Representing every Juneau elementary school, the exhibit, organized by Juneau School District's Elementary Art Program, honored National Youth Art Month.

The heads of the program, Nancy Lehnhart and Heather Ridgway, planned at the beginning of the school year to do a districtwide exhibit. They asked each teacher to submit two pieces of artwork from two students. Once the pieces were reviewed, Lehnhart and Ridgway presented the young artists with tickets indicating their artwork was chosen for display.

The Nugget Mall granted space for the youth art. Craig Mapes' construction class at Juneau-Douglas High School built the display panels on which the art pieces were hung. Valley Lumber donated half the materials and the Elementary Art Program provided the rest of the funds for the panels. These will be donated to the district for other projects, beginning with Glacier Valley Elementary's art gala Saturday night.

Thirteen volunteers helped with various tasks, including hanging art the week before the opening, loading the exhibit into the mall and closing the show on Sunday evening.

Home school student Rosie Jones, 10, helped set up the event. She also had one piece of her art in the show - a multimedia mermaid seascape done with watercolor, different colored pieces of paper, beads and barnacles. Recently she's also been keeping herself busy with other projects.

"Lately I've been doing a lot of big pieces with watercolor," Rosie said. "I like charcoal."

Saturday saw the most visitors with students, parents, teachers, art admirers and shoppers strolling by the displays.

"Lots of teachers came to the mall to see this. It's a healthy display of what Juneau students can do," Ridgway said.

Bonnie Pennoyer beamed as she strolled among the artwork.

"It tickles me to death," Pennoyer said. "It gives a student a lifetime of joy."

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