What I did last summer

If anyone asks five Ashland High School art students what they did last summer, all they have to do is point at the walls of Illahe Studios and Gallery.

The gallery, which recently moved to a brightly lit brick building at the corner of Fourth and B Streets, is hosting the students' work through Nov. 29.

An artists' reception is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

The art may have never existed if not for student Alison Van Olphen. Earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the Ashland Gallery Association asking for a grant so that students could buy art supplies for the summer.

"I don't have a lot of money, but I knew in the summer I would want to paint," she said. "I assumed other kids were in a similar situation."

The association responded not only with a $500 grant, but Illahe owner Sue Springer offered space for a student exhibition in her gallery for November.

The result is an eclectic exhibition that ranges from a realistically painted zebra — albeit with a colorful abstract background — to imaginative cartoon-style pen drawings of people.

Sophomore Kailey Cockell used money from the AGA grant to buy new brushes, canvases and a set of oil paints. She used the materials for her zebra painting.

"I probably would've done art, but I would have been more limited," she said.

Deven McCoy, also a sophomore, said he gets inspiration for his black and white pen drawings from people-watching. He goes home and translates what he sees into caricatures with bulging eyes and odd bodies.

McCoy plans to continue his education at a school for graphic design, illustration or photography, and then pursue a career in a field like comic illustration or film animation.

Junior Brandon Scheirman's creations are all over the map. He combined a photo of his art teacher's head with the body of Mona Lisa and the words "Do Art Dammit!" Another delicate pencil drawing of one of his friends took eight to 10 hours of work, he estimated.

Another student, Vickie McElroy, painted colorful fish and other animals.

Springer said the students had to complete their pieces and then frame and hang them.

"They had to meet deadlines and follow the process all the way through," she said.

The students also have to report on how they spent their share of the AGA grant money, Springer said.

Cockell said she's excited about having her painting hanging up in a gallery.

"I was really happy. It's a good opportunity for me to get my art known," she said.

Previously located on A Street, Illahe Studios and Gallery is now at 215 Fourth St. In addition to being open until 8 p.m. this Friday for the artists' reception and First Friday Art Walk, Illahe is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Reach Aldous at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. To post a comment, visit www.dailytidings.com.

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