OTTAWA — Reanna Pelszynski of La Salle continues to be impressed by the creativity of area youth displayed at the annual Town and Country Youth Art Show hosted by the Ottawa Art League. The event chairperson, Pelszynski has the privilege of previewing the entries as they are unpacked and placed on display.
“It’s kind of like Christmas when all this stuff arrives,” she said. “They see the world in a much different light than adults do. We tend to get filtered into our little grooves, and they’re not in grooves yet.”
Among the pieces on display was a pencil drawing by Ottawa eighth-grader Sophi Thorsen, whose art teacher entered one of her assignments in the show.
“I draw all the time at home,” Thorsen said. “It’s what I usually do when I get home from school.”
She plans to select something on her own to contribute next year.
Peru Parkside eighth-grader Madison Zuchora also had a pencil drawing in the show.
“My art teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, did this really cool project on urban decay,” Zuchora said. “I spent a lot of time working hard on that — more than probably any of my other projects.”
The assignment was to create something that focused on a social issue. Zuchora chose homelessness, drawing a run-down building with garbage strewn about and the words “No Place Like Home” in bold, bright colors.
“We say that about our homes,” she said, “and that would be their home.”
Pelszynski said several area teachers enter their students’ art projects in the show.
“I can kind of tell what the teachers set them up to do,” she said. “Every one of those kids came up with a different way of looking at that project.”
She also mentioned the social issues project assigned by Parkside Middle School art teacher Julie Jenkins.
“It’s impressive how serious middle school students take that kind of artwork,” Pelszynski said. “They came up with some really wonderful pieces.”
This year’s Best of Show went to Ottawa High School freshman Danielle Lindenbaum, which was no surprise to Pelszynski, though she was not a judge at the event. Lindenbaum has won either Best of Show or first in her division all three of the previous years she has entered. And for good reason, according to Pelszynski, who praised Lindenbaum’s work.
“And she just does pencil drawings,” she said. “We’re not talking color or anything. And they are outstanding.”
All entries that received a blue ribbon are eligible to participate in a state competition. Last year, winners from the Ottawa show took home three of the nine awards in the student division at state.
“Which just goes to show you we’ve got some fine budding artists in this community,” Pelszynski said, “and really good art teachers.”
The Town and Country Youth Art Show is partially funded by the Illinois Valley Fine Arts Trust.
Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or firstname.lastname@example.org.