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Teen artists exhibit at Rogue Gallery

In a program dedicated to developing art skill in youth, 16 high school students have spent the past three months working alongside professional artists to create a fine art project of their choosing.

The Artist Teen Mentoring Project has been offered through the Rogue Gallery & Art Center for six years.

The work of these young artists, ages 16 to 18, and their mentors will be exhibited Friday, April 16, through May 1 at the Rogue Gallery, 40 S. Bartlett St., Medford. This is the first year the student's projects will be displayed in the Rogue's main gallery.

An opening reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 16, at the gallery.

In 2008, three students and two mentors participated in ATMP. In 2009, 17 students and eight mentors participated. This year, four mentors returned, and six more were recruited.

"With funding being cut to art programs in public schools, a lot of teens only get instruction in drawing and painting, and it's very difficult to find three-dimensional artists ... so we try to choose mentors that are working in media that isn't offered," says Holly Kilpatrick, Rogue Gallery's education director.

Glass blowing, woodworking, illustration, computer animation, photography, silk screen printing, mural design and printmaking were represented in this year's program.

"We are trying to pair teens with people making art for a living to explore what a career in art looks like, and it also provides them access with a bevy of artists to ask question about how they got where they are and what their recommendations are for pursuing a career in art," says Kilpatrick.

South Medford High School seniors Beto Vargas and Vincent Rush, like several other participants, were using the ATMP to fulfill their requirements for a senior project. An admirer of Cesar Chavez, Vargas decided to center his paper and project on the educator and civil rights activist and arranged to create a mural of the man and other esteemed figures — Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony — on the northern wall of the Kids Unlimited building.

"The idea was ambitious, and I didn't really know how to execute it," says Vargas.

Through ATMP, Kilpatrick paired the two seniors with painter and muralist Gabriel Lipper. The program's time allowance and the weather did not permit Vargas and Rush to paint the mural on the building, rather the pair created a 4-by-7 acrylic study of their design with the help of Lipper's keen eye and expertise. The actual mural, to be completed this summer, will be about 10 feet by 17 feet.

"They'd never painted before, so I also taught them the basics of painting, how to work tonally with paint and use color and how to catch a likeness," says Lipper.

Vargas admitted that at the beginning he was scared "to enter the realm of color and paint brushes."

"I learned how to look at the different face features and the shading values of the face going from darks to lights," he says.

Rush and Vargas' study will be donated to the new SMHS upon completion.

"The painting looks really good. It looks like the people so I guess we did something right," says Vargas.

“What's really nice about art is you leave a message and influence the community through images and pictures.”

Other participating students featured at the gallery are SMHS students Gerardo Valencia, Emily Holte, Rebekah Adams, Yuriko Zubia, Kai Millhouse and Jasmine Moore; North Medford High School students Chase Ashley, Caroline Laud-Jones and Emily Duffie; Phoenix High School students Rebecca Rodas, Erica Ledesma, Stefanie Scowden and MacKenzie Legg and Eagle Point High School student Blanca Gutierrez.Call 541-772-8118.

Top: An acrylic painting by Vincent Rush and Beto Vargas is nearly complete. This summer, the two high school seniors will paint this mural on the northern wall of Kids Unlimited. - Photo by Denise Baratta