By Hayley Thomas
Studios on the Park resident artists wear many hats, and all of them are colorful.
Most recently, the artists took on the role of educators and creative mentors benefiting local youth. The result? The “Tribute to Experience” show, which ran in conjunction with the Paso Art Association’s Pick a Color Reception last Thursday at Studios on the Park.
The participating youth artists, part of Artists Re-Imagining Color [ARC, ranged in age from 18 to 21. Group leader Henry AJ Ramos said the at-risk and disadvantaged youth were exposed to valuable, real-world experience.
“[ARC] got to work with 25 Studios on the Park resident artists that are very experienced and they revealed their approaches,” said Ramos. “These seasoned artists engaged in exchanges with the young people, who learned about their techniques.”
Ramos said the event was a success. In a display of thanks for the Studios on the Park resident artists, the youth painted, penciled and sketched portraits of their new mentors. The recent show, “Tribute to Experience,” showcased that effort.
Ramos said the exhibit served as “a reflection,” of what each youth learned throughout their one-on-one experience. Youth worked to incorporate their mentor’s own techniques – whether that be bright acrylics or printmaking – into the special portraits.
“In every area of methodology, [the youth] tried to produce at least one piece that spoke to a specific approach,” said Ramos. “It showed that the [participants] did indeed take on some important lessons from these artists.”
More youth art accomplishments are on the horizon.
ARC recently gained the green light to produce a mural in downtown Paso Robles, which will be completed by the end of the year, according to organizers. The location is yet to be officially announced.
The youth artists have also been commissioned to create artwork for the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority. Come October, local buses running from San Miguel to Santa Maria will feature youth artwork. That’s a whopping 60,000 eyes per week.
“It will provide a lot of visibility and will show the RTA’s support for the arts,” Ramos said.
Last Thursday’s show also included The Paso Robles Art Association’s reception, “Pick a Color,” which featured monochromatic artwork. The PRAA boasts about 500 members and puts on eight to 10 juried art exhibits each year. PRAA Gallery Director Kim Snyder said the nonprofit was happy to show alongside local youth.
“We loved opening our show at the same time because we are interested in getting more teens involved,” said Snyder. "With the reduction of art and difficulties with school funding, we are looking to build more classes for youth."
Coming up, the PRAA will again partner with the Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association to showcase the Taste of Downtown & Arte de Tiza, Saturday, Sept 15. Local youth will be encouraged to create their own chalk masterpieces surrounding Downtown City Park. Youth art scholarships will be awarded to winning participants.
• More information on Arte de Tiza
For more information on the Arte de Tiza, visit www.pasoroblesdowntown.org.
For upcoming events at Studios on the Park, visit www.studiosonthepark.org.
• About the ARC
In February and March 2012, ARC leader Henry AJ Ramos facilitated a series of teen artist dialogs with Studios on the Park masters.
The series engaged young people ages 17-20 in discussions about creative process. Artists explored topics such as their informing experiences and study, stylistic influences, methods, and outlook on creative careers. Sessions exposed local aspiring youth artists to Studios’ most experienced practitioners whose media span painting, collage, printmaking, photography, ceramics, jewelry and sculpture.
Participating teens exchanged with featured artists through open question and answer formats that were at once informal, interactive and informative. Following each session, the youth assembled as a whole and conducted debrief conversations that Ramos facilitated about what they learned and how it might help to advance their own creative work and point-of-view.
“As a board member and artist at Studios on the Park, I have devoted a great deal of time in recent years to working with teens and at-risk youth in the local community,” Ramos said. “In doing so, I have sought to help expand the participating youths' exposure to, and practice in, the creative arts.Â”