I once took a class at the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design, which people most often refer to as just ArtCenter. So, it throws me off for a second when Tina Schrager refers to Maude Kerns Art Center as the “art center.” But MKAC truly acts as a center for all things connected to art in Eugene. Unlike the ArtCenter in L.A., which is particularly geared toward preparing students for careers as commercial artists, our art center is a hub for anyone, any age, interested in learning, practicing or exhibiting art.
Teenage artists, Schrager says, care more about showing their emotions.
She was exhibitions coordinator at MKAC in 2000, when she proposed the center hold an exhibit of art made by teens. The work in the annual Mayor’s Teen Art Show this year supports Schrager’s observation in a big way.
Acer Boling-West’s painting “The Sun and the Moon” is a blast of fiery red with the portrait at the center of the sun, their hair doubling for solar flares.
“Agony” by Jori Johnson has a red-orange ground, too, but the figure at the center is green. The person or alien depicted has their mouth open, a la Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” The eyes are missing, perhaps gouged out. The hands reach at nothing, as if in pain.
“Artist Perception” by Cailin Stewart is also an expressive portrait, though more linear and abstract. This painting is as concerned with design as content. The work seems almost to have been made on a psychedelic color wheel, the kind where colors splash onto a spinning canvas. The eyes here are present and wide open — flooded by tears.
Thirty-one young artists from 11 schools have been selected to show work in a variety of mediums in this year’s show. I like “Artist Perception” for how design and subject matter merge. We’ll see if Mayor Lucy Vinis agrees when she announces the Mayor’s Choice Award at an awards ceremony and reception Friday, Sept. 23.
Schrager retired from MKAC 16 years ago, but she is still very much a part of the art scene in Eugene. She hung the Eugene Biennial exhibit recently at Karin Clarke Gallery. Hanging art was her favorite part of the job, both at the art center and when she was a partner in the Karin Clarke Gallery, then Shrager & Clarke. They were a good team, she says, as she preferred hanging the shows over the business aspect of running a gallery, which Clarke does well.
Yet it was her idea to have a teen show, largely to introduce young people to the business side of being a fine artist. The show’s original title was “Fast Forward.” The rules were the same as for the Mayor’s Art Show, which was then housed at the now-defunct Jacobs Gallery in the Hult Center. Teenagers had to get good images of their work in order to participate — before digital cameras and online submissions — and identify them in a professional manner. If their work was chosen for the show, they had to turn it in ready to hang.
MKAC may be a community art center, but the Mayor’s Teen Art Show provides young people with a professional experience, an introduction to how to get their work in shows. Schrager, who does not have a formal education in art but has been an artist, wearable-art shop owner, co-owner of an art gallery and exhibit coordinator, was inspired to hold a teenage version of the Mayor’s Art Show in Eugene because, she says, there were teenagers studying at the art center who were interested in pursuing careers as artists.
Twenty-two years later, she is “very pleased it lasted this long.”
The Mayor’s Teen Art Show runs through Sept. 30 at Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 E. 15th Avenue. An awards ceremony & reception is 5 to 7 pm Friday, Sept. 23. Hours are 10 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 pm Saturday.