Steamboat Springs artist Mary Beth Galer works with Steamboat Springs High School junior Janette Najera during Lisa Derning’s Advanced Placement studio art class Tuesday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs artist Mary Beth Galer works with Steamboat Springs High School junior Janette Najera during Lisa Derning’s Advanced Placement studio art class Tuesday.

Mentoring program fosters young Steamboat artists

High school, gallery team up to introduce students to artists

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Steamboat Springs oil painter Cully Kistler watches Steamboat Springs High School junior Grace Stamps draw Tuesday.

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Steamboat Springs High School junior Janette Najera works on a piece.

— A new art program at Steam­boat Springs High School works on the “understanding that we learn from others.”

That’s the goal of bringing professional local artists into Lisa Derning’s Advanced Placement studio art class through the end of the year, Derning said. Through a partnership with Center for Visual Arts, a downtown gallery, Dern­ing’s students will work with six artist mentors during studio time and critiques.

During the class’s studio time Tuesday, four local artists circulated around the room, talking about concepts and direction and technique with students.

Jeanne Richheimer, a Center for Visual Arts contributor who makes multimedia pieces and has some experience teaching art, said she was enjoying the chance to see what younger artists are working with.

“The more you look at art and other people’s art, the more inspired you are,” Richheimer said.

During a critique session Thursday, local artist and Colo­rado Mountain College art instructor MB Warner gave students tips and encouragement about their finished work, suggesting direction for future related pieces.

That’s the kind of interaction Linda Laughlin, owner of Center for Visual Arts, hopes to see as the program moves through the semester. She and Derning started making plans in the fall for a mentor program using Laughlin’s 80 or so gallery members as a teaching base.

“Particularly after we had such a good collaboration with the high school when we did the high school exhibit in April, Lisa Derning and I had been talking about what else could be supportive for her AP art students,” Laughlin said, referring to a spring AP art show at Center for Visual Arts.

“The notion of having an artist provide additional critique and feedback for students preparing to go to art school seemed to be something we wanted to pursue,” she said.

From now until May, the mentor program is in a pilot stage as Laughlin and Derning figure out the best way to provide benefit for artists and students, Laughlin said.

The artists have different backgrounds and experiences, Derning said. By exposing students to those new and different experiences, program organizers hope to improve their artistic output, she said.

Eventually, program organizers would like to get enough funding and feedback to assign an artist mentor to a student with a similar interest at the beginning of the year, Laughlin said. Addi­tional considerations include field trips to professional artists’ studios, she said.

Laughlin and Derning hope to use feedback from the spring pilot program to launch a full-year version in the fall, Laughlin said.

“We really believe that there’s a good reason to try to foster art appreciation amongst our young people here … and we’ve got such a wealth of resource material, we have so many living and working artists in Steamboat, there’s no reason why we can’t share some of this knowledge,” she said.

Local artists interested in becoming a mentor may contact Laughlin at 846-7062 or steam boatartcenter@earthlink.net.

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