The school year is coming to an end, and it’s time for public school students to show their artistic accomplishments at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. Student artwork is on display May 4-30, including creations from the Clark County K-12 schools of the Virgin Valley, and a special display of ceramics from Rancho High School in Las Vegas. The Eureka Casino Resort has underwritten this exhibition that showcases the work of our young artists. Also displayed are samples of work from the Get Smart/Stay Smart with Art classes offered free of charge by Virgin Valley Artists Association (VVAA).
Since the Gallery opened in 2003, VVAA has set aside one month each year to school-age artists for their classroom artwork.Visitors to the gallery are treated to an explosion of colors and figures as they enter the gallery during this display. Walls are covered top to bottom with carefully mounted drawings, paper masks, photography and other wall art. Paper mache figures and other three-dimensional artforms fill tabletops throughout the gallery.
In the current climate of educational financing, the fact that Clark County Schools offer art classes to students of various ages is important. However, the amount of time allowed for the creative art process is often limited and class sizes can be overwhelming. Instructors Lori Raines of VVES, Stacy Sipe of JL Bowler Elementary, Natalie Halladay at Charles Hughes Middle School, and Jon Putnam of VVHS have each devoted many years to educating Virgin Valley students in the important skills and the fun of art. These students and their teachers deserve the recognition they gain through this public exhibition. The public is invited, along with parents, teachers, students, to celebrate the art display at an open house May 21, 4-6 p.m., at the Gallery.
VVAA artists Kathleen and Harlo Birkholz became acquainted with Mrs. C.A. Traen, ceramics instructor at Rancho High School, Las Vegas, when her school purchased a piece of surplus equipment from the VVAA Pottery Studio. Intrigued by the high level of skill and creativity shown in her students’ hand-built ceramic sculptures, the Birkholz’s invited her to bring her students’ best work to the Gallery’s student exhibition in May, 2014. Public reaction to their work was overwhelming, and Rancho is back again to show off their new creations.
Mrs. Traen and her husband transport crates of ceramics to Mesquite. Last year a number of the students also attended the Gallery’s public reception for the exhibition. This exhibition opportunity is as important for kids from the “big city” as it is for Mesquite’s students. Las Vegas does not have a similar show, and some of the young Rancho artists had never traveled as far as Mesquite, despite being only 80 miles from their home.
Rancho High School is unusual in offering its advanced ceramics program. This is made even more special by the fact that UNLV does not offer a university-level ceramics program. Rancho students sometime seek college training out of state, and raise money for their own advanced training through sale of their work. More about their art can be seen at their website, www.ranchoceramics.com.
The Student Art Exhibition is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery, 15 West Mesquite Blvd, Mesquite, Nevada. Admission to the gallery is free. A public reception will be held May 21, 4-6pm reception, with refreshments served. Gallery phone is 702-346-1338, website, mesquitefineartscenter.com. VVAA is also on Facebook.