The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents “The Year of the Cubs,” an exhibit of Newport High School and Newport Middle School artwork in the Upstairs Gallery and the Classroom Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center, from June 3 to July 2. The exhibition will include student work from the first year of Newport High School’s class in commercial art and design, led by instructor Casey McEneny. Newport Middle School students, led by instructor Erin Price, developed their work in the course of studying the life of Rick Bartow, the renowned Newport artist who passed away earlier this year. The First Friday public reception for “The Year of the Cubs” will be held June 3, 5-7pm, at the VAC, with McEneny, Price and students discussing their programs and work at 6:30pm.
The 2015-16 schoolyear marked the return of a full-time art instructor at Newport High School, and the class in commercial art and design has proven highly popular among the student body. The full-year class is open to students in grades 9-12 and includes a dual emphasis on professional and commercial projects. The class develops basic art skills and conceptual understanding and explores a variety of methods and techniques related to commercial art in four categories: public and residential murals, commercial graphic design, hand carved- and hand-painted signs, and fine art with a focus on drawing, painting, mechanical illustration/drafting and sculpture.
A quick tour of the student artwork on the walls and tables of McEneny’s classroom, however, makes clear that the students and instructor are pushing the creative boundaries beyond the course description itself. “The work by Casey’s students is exceptional in both its quality and variety,” says OCCA VAC Director Tom Webb, who along with McEneny will select representative works for the exhibition from student creations throughout the year. “Many of the art pieces demonstrate a creative level far beyond high school.”
Under the direction of teaching artist Erin Price, Newport Middle School students analyzed Rick Bartow’s diverse body of work and were inspired by stories of his resilience and triumphs over life hurdles. With information and videos from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art as well as classroom visits from Bartow’s friend Karen Murphy, students experienced Bartow as both artist and person. Students took to the walls in a Bartow-style studio experience with works inspired by his aesthetics, themes and use of personal symbolism.
Casey McEneny has been involved with commercial art instruction at the school in years past on a part-time basis. McEneny has professional skills across a spectrum of art media and art making, including graphic design, wood sculpture and carving, sign and mural making, wax painting, glass etching, sandblasting and more.
Erin Price is a K-12 teaching artist and TAG educator who fosters learning through creativity, especially in combination with science, math and social studies. She is a multi-media artist who incorporates a wide variety of repurposed material in her work, and she enjoys pushing students to achieve new levels of understand and ability.
“With both Newport High School and Newport Middle School represented at the Newport Visual Arts Center in June, it really is the ‘Year of the Cubs’ at the VAC,” Webb says.