GALLERY: Art show is worlds away from Charles City High School

By Kate Hayden,

The Charles City High School’s art department has a lot on display to be proud of.

Artwork from between 40 to 50 high school students is open to the public at the Charles City Arts Center, and can be enjoyed tonight at the center’s first Uff Da Fruehling Fest, starting at 5 p.m. The German/Norwegian spring festival will also have food, sweets and beer tastings from local brewers available to visitors until 8 p.m.

High school students had their own opening reception at the center last night, and can enjoy having more than 100 pieces on display for the next month.

“I’ve got a lot of really talented high school artists who’ve worked really hard for the entire school year preparing for Thursday night,” art teacher Brian Bohlen said. “It is an honor for kids to have stuff in the art show, because not everything’s selected.”

Photography, ceramics, paintings and sculptures make up a variety of projects on display.

“With each year comes different techniques from different kids, so you see techniques in different paintings that’s unique to that student,” Bohlen said.

Junior Acacia White just started working on wheel pottery this past fall. From her first pieces thrown in the department’s Wheel 1 class, White said she felt more comfortable exploring techniques and styles through the year.

“With each wheel pottery class, I just started getting a little bit better,”  White said. “I noticed last quarter, (Bohlen) wouldn’t teach me as much, because he wanted me to learn on my own, which actually helped me a lot.”

White’s favorite projects to work on have been bowls, but she also has teapots on display during the art show. White has five pottery pieces in the show, but she estimates she’s made about 30 since her first class this year. This spring, she has two periods a day to work on the wheel, but next year White plans to try sculpting and raku pottery.

“My hands have becomes steadier, and I’ve been able to perfect it a little easier,” she added. “I like to make basically anything I can. I like to work on new stuff.”

Senior Sara Martin was working on one of her largest canvases in the art studio on Tuesday afternoon: a former landscape that she decided not to continue, repainted into the abstract style Martin enjoys the most. That painting isn’t on display, but her four pieces at the Arts Center share Martin’s interest in bright colors contrasting with pastels.

“I just like working with colors in different ways. I just don’t have the patience to deal with small details, and I like doing things that make people think more,” Martin said. “I love asking people, ‘What do you think this is?’, and then I hear different opinions.”

The former landscape isn’t the only idea Martin has tossed or tweaked once she starts a canvas.

“When I started, I just let my brush do whatever, because it didn’t end up what my sketch looked like,” Martin said. “The colors are just bright and inviting, and it has a good flow. I really like the look of watercolors, that faded color like the sky. If you look at all of my paintings, I think that ties in.”

“I love working with acrylics or oils and putting them together to see what new textures that creates,” she added.

Martin will occasionally visit the pottery wheel to keep her skills sharp, but painting is her main getaway during Studio Art. After high school, Martin will attend Wartburg College, and she plans to keep all her art supplies at home to dip into whenever she returns. She’ll also take a few college art classes “to keep me sane,” she said.

“Something I can always come back to to relieve stress, something that isn’t my job — I want it to be something for me to get away from my actual job,” Martin said.

Junior Elizabeth White has all oil paintings in this year’s art show.

“I’m more realistic, I’m really detail-oriented, but also I feel like my brain is too busy to keep it just at details,” White said. “It’s kind of like if realistic painting and abstract painting had a baby. They’re all really colorful and kind of make you think, but it’s detailed enough to where you kind of feel like you’re in the painting.”

White started drawing as a kid, and was introduced to paint and the colors she could achieve as a freshman in high school.

“I feel like you can create more depth and reality,” White said.

Now, she paints a lot of natural subjects like food and flowers. White also has a portrait series of women in natural settings — but the colors are just a bit off to be completely realistic.

“I really like doing eyes and hair,” White said. “Some of them it’ll start off as pictures I take of my friends, and then it just turns, like sometimes they’ll have blue skin or pink hair.”

On one painting, White wanted to paint a girl with a water background and create depth.

“I was just doing a normal girl with brown hair under water, and it was too boring for me,” she said. “I threw on some funky-colored hair and added some color, and now I like it a lot.”

“It’s a stress-reliever, and it’s kind of an escape,” she added. “I can create my own world for a little bit, and I can escape to it without having to worry about homework or all the assignments that I’m definitely not doing right now.”