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Young artists go pro at the Gallery in Williams

Ashlynn Kennelly concentrates on a drawing in art class at Williams Middle School. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Ashlynn Kennelly concentrates on a drawing in art class at Williams Middle School. Ryan Williams/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Local kids can experience what it's like to be a professional artist during Youth Art Month in March.

The Gallery in Williams will put on a youth art exhibit throughout the month, and students can choose to price their items to sell. The Gallery is accepting entries through Feb. 28 for the art show.

According to the National Art Education Association, Youth Art Month started in 1961.

"The Youth Art Month Program emphasizes the value of art education for all children, encourages support for quality school art programs, and promotes art material safety," according to the association's website.

This is the fourth year Williams has celebrated Youth Art Month. This year the Williams Alliance for the Arts is sponsoring the event.

"The purpose is to showcase the talent that our student artists have across the nation and in this community," said The Gallery in Williams owner and Williams Alliance for the Arts founder Kris Williams. "And to give them maybe a little taste of what it's like to participate in a show, we'll hold a reception for them."

The reception will take place on March 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Gallery, 145 W. Route 66. The youth art will be on display throughout the month in the featured artist section and in the front window.

Williams Unified School District kindergarten through 12th grade art teacher Rico Dunn said he is encouraging his students to submit their artwork for the exhibit.

"They might not fully appreciate it yet, but the fact that their work is in a gallery is amazing. I've been basically a freelance artist since I was 10 years old, and it took me until I was 25 to get into a gallery," he said. "Especially with the community that we live in, being such a tourist town, someone from all the way across the world, to be able to see and possibly even buy your artwork, it's amazing."

Students ages 1-18 can enter original two- or three-dimensional works of art for the exhibit. The Gallery will not award prizes or ribbons, but if a student decides to sell their artwork and someone buys it, the student will get 100 percent of the proceeds.

In the past few years, some of the young artists have sold their entries.

"It often sells to grandparents, but I bought a photograph that I fell in love with that was done by one of the Williams High School students and it was in the show two years ago," Williams said.

To promote kids getting involved in Youth Art Month, the Williams Alliance for the Arts has organized four free art workshops for different age groups. Two workshops for kids from kindergarten through eighth grade will take place at Old Trails True Value. Bonnie Dent will lead the workshops, which take place Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. The first class is for watercolor painting and the second is for pastels. All materials will be provided, and students from Williams Elementary-Middle, Heritage, Maine Consolidated, Ash Fork and Seligman schools are welcome.

The remaining two workshops are exclusively for Williams High School students. The workshops take place Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. Dent and Lisa Noble will lead the watercolor and pastel workshops. Space is limited in all four workshops and pre-registration is required.

"The purpose is for children to go to the workshop and produce something that will be ready to display and sell if they want to for Youth Art Month," Williams said.

With the combination of the art exhibit and the workshops, Williams hopes Youth Art Month will inspire budding artists to create their own masterpiece.

"We hope to raise awareness of the importance of the arts to our youth by doing this and show people that our youth is creative and that young students really can produce some really wonderful works of art," she said. "The arts provide a safe outlet for their creative energy - they help them excel in all aspects of other academics. It gives them a healthy balance."

More information about Youth Art Month is available from Williams at (928) 310-6287.

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