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'Be Great' youth art exhibit is looking to future at local museum

January 19, 2012

Antigo Daily Journal

Antigo Daily Journal

A museum devoted to Langlade County’s past is now filled with artwork representing its future.

The Boys & Girls Club, in conjunction with Antigo Visual Arts Association, is hosting the “Be Great” youth art exhibit now through the end of February at the AVA Art Gallery located inside the museum.

The arts group and youth club are collaborating to showcase artwork created by youth members of the Boys and Girls Club under the leadership of Alex Cmaylo, cultural enrichment director for the club.

Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the exhibit will end on Feb. 24 with a closing reception pizza party from 5 to 7 p.m.

Among the work featured are individual youth artist Zen paintings, crisply patterned black and white abstract ink-brush paintings, and colorful sticker paintings.

Also on display are works created as group endeavors where the club members worked together on large scale paintings.

“The children are learning and beginning to understand the dynamics of working as a collective with the creation of future public works throughout the community in mind,” Cmaylo said. “Art has the incredible power to in turn empower these children, convince them of the innumerable possibilities available to them, and to encourage them to participate in something truly American.”

As an added bonus, Cmaylo’s own paintings are on display alongside the youth art.

“It is my sincere pleasure to teach and mentor all of our aspiring ‘makers.’ Their enthusiasm and passion is unparalleled, their inventiveness and creativity is truly inspirational, and their interest and enthusiasm is an example for us all,” Cmaylo said. “These are our adult artists of the future.”

The local club is joining more than 4,000 facilities across the country in a search to identify talented young artists as is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Fine Arts Exhibit program. The program promotes creativity and encourages members to develop their artistic skills and experience cultural enrichment.

Selected individual artwork will be screened at the local and regional levels and will be eligible for judging at the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Atlanta national headquarters. Thirty-seven national winners will be named and their artwork displayed at special events throughout the year.

AVA director Bette Ebel encouraged the families of these young artists and all community members to view the “Be Great” exhibit.

“This show is vibrant and full of the spontaneity that makes youth art so enjoyable,” Ebel said. “ We can certainly see the inspiration taken from Cmaylo’s own paintings that motivated the club members to paint freely and enjoy the painting process. Children and painting are a wonderful combination, resulting in total enjoyment for the art creators and for the viewers of the work.

“AVA is pleased to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club to host this bright and naïve yet sophisticated collection of youth art,” Ebel added. “We are happy to provide the opportunity for the young artists to become active members of the local art community and to display their art in a formal gallery setting.”

The art association plans on future collaborative exhibits through partnering with a variety of community resources, Ebel said, with a gallery calendar full of exhibits scheduled into 2013. It will include a series of “Undiscovered Area Artists” exhibits in the near future.

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