Warren artists on display

VINCENT – The annual Warren High School art exhibit is always a feast for the eyes, but this year’s promises to be the biggest ever.

“We’re going out with a bang,” said art teacher Sylvia Young.

This is Young’s final year at the high school, where she has taught since the building opened in 1961. She and her twin sister, longtime Barlow-Vincent Elementary art teacher Sandra Young, retired two years ago. Sylvia Young stayed on at the high school in a retire/rehire agreement, with her sister volunteering in the classroom most days as well.

“They’re not like normal teachers,” said Autumn Sauer, a junior in the advanced studio art class. “They’re almost like a second mother to you.”

“And a third mom,” added classmate Ali Morey.

Sylvia Young said Friday after completing the setup of the exhibit that what she will miss most about teaching is her students.

“It’s just been kind of bittersweet,” she said. “But I guess it is time.”

In addition to displaying the students’ art for the community, the Youngs will be honored during the open house from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school. Warren Principal Dan Leffingwell said former students are encouraged to attend.

“Art’s been such an important part of our school culture, and those ladies have been a big part of it,” he said.

Senior Amanda Bonnell credits Sylvia Young with aiding her in earning a scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of Art by helping develop her skills over the years and assisting with her portfolio selections.

“I have improved greatly every year,” she said.

Works by students in all art classes at the school are displayed, not just the advanced studio class. Media include pencil, oil painting, acrylic, clay, wire sculpture and even recyclables, with one student having fashioned a praying mantis out of green soda cans, bottles and boxes. Life-sized characters from movies, TV and real life – Batman, Dobby the House Elf and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine – line one hallway.

“This whole building’s transformed,” Morey said.

To the advanced studio students, paintings they’d made on 4-by-5-inch pieces of canvas stood out even among the larger works.

“There’s the big ones towering over it, but everyone’s like, ‘Oh, look at that,'” Morey said.

Junior Kelley Johnson recreated Vincent van Gogh’s classic “Starry Night” on one of the miniature canvases.

“That was probably the hardest painting I’ve ever accomplished,” she said.

Like her classmates, junior Amanda Davis said she enjoys having her art on display – even if that does result in some initial jitters.

“It’s like completely open for judgment,” she said. “And then you hear someone walk behind you and say, ‘wow, that’s really cool’ or they point at it and smile.”

This year, at the request of students including Davis and Bonnell, there will be a silent auction of some of the pieces. People can bid on them Tuesday or when they tour the display during the week.

Sauer has already sold one painting that was on public display earlier this year.

“It feels really great because knowing somebody likes my art, it gives you this feeling that you really can’t describe,” she said.