Hidden in the Hills

Writer Sue Kern-Fleischer

Savvy art collectors often like to find young, emerging artists and follow them as they develop their talent. There’s no better place to do this than at the Youth Art Studio 1 during the 21st Annual Hidden in the Hills Artist Studio Tour & Sale taking place during the last two weekends of November (Nov. 17-19 and again Nov. 24-26). The popular art tour features 174 artists in 44 studio locations throughout the scenic Desert Foothills communities of Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale.

This year’s Youth Art Studio 1 moves to a new location at the Sonoran Arts League’s new Center for the Arts, 7100 E. Cave Creek Road, Suites 143 and 144, at Stagecoach Village in Cave Creek. The beautiful new office will serve as the information headquarters for the popular art tour. Visitors can pick up artist directories, maps and inquire about other tour details prior to and during the tour.

The league’s new Center for the Arts is also the perfect place to start the tour, as some two dozen students will be demonstrating in the courtyard. Guests also will be able to view and purchase more than 60 pieces of art that will be exhibited.

“This year’s Youth Art Studio has taken on a completely new dimension, and we’re excited to showcase a variety of paintings, sculptures and mixed media pieces created by young, creative artists who the league has identified as artists to watch,” said Pat Bell-Demers, Sonoran Arts League executive director.

The Youth Art Studio 1 will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday for both weekends of the tour. A special exhibit also will take place at the league’s Center for the Arts from Thursday, Nov. 2 to Tuesday, Nov. 28, with a free artist reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 2.

“Education has always been an important initiative for the league,” Bell-Demers said. “Several league members, such as Robin Ray, Gordy Mischke and Judy Bruce, deserve credit for mentoring these young students. Not only do they help students develop their artistic talent, they teach them important business skills so they learn how to promote and sell their work.”

Four of the students who will exhibit their work at Youth Art Studio 1 recently received scholarships from the Sonoran Arts League after entering a contest for graduating seniors. Logan Larkin received $2,000, Annika Olson received $1,000, and Rachel Dutcher and Alyssa Maraila received $500 each. All four attended Cactus Shadows High School.

Larkin, 18, is already putting his scholarship to good use, having moved to New York City to attend the prestigious Parsons School of Design at The New School. An abstract artist who creates two-dimensional visual art, he considers himself an oil and acrylic painter first, but he often includes mixed media in his work, such as paper, ink, oil stick, glue, and cutouts from newspapers and magazine articles.

“I am drawn to a lot of things that I believe empower me to paint. My first subject of inspiration is the human condition itself, and the way it is perceived politically and emotionally in our society today. I also consider the methods of expression of artists from the modern art movement as well as the counter culture movement, such as Robert Rauschenberg, and Jean-Michel Basquiat,” Larkin said.

His passion for art began at a young age, but he didn’t become serious about pursuing a career as a professional artist until he started high school.

“I am very grateful to the Sonoran Arts League, not only for supporting me with a generous scholarship, but for giving me a chance to experience an art community and understand how a professional group functions by allowing me to participate in shows and exhibitions,” he said.

Annika Olson, 18, is also grateful to the league for their support, and she plans to use her scholarship funds toward art supplies for her classes at Mesa Community College. A Scottsdale resident, Olson is focused on getting better with techniques, understanding anatomy, and learning how light, form and color interact.

“I do tend to have a liking toward semi-interpretive objects that can have different meanings and connections to different people. Sometimes it’s fun to find something random and then derive the meaning from there. Art with intention flipped,” Olson said.

Most of her current work is in pencil or watercolor, but she recently started painting with oil, which she said suits her better as she prefers finished and semi-realistic work.

She finds much of her inspiration from nature, science, math and technology.

“We, as sentient animals, are lucky enough to have the opportunity to have the capacity to learn and interpret, which allows us to appreciate and find beauty in real, tangible things,” Olson said. “I don’t necessarily think spirituality is bad, but it definitely can inadvertently overshadow and diminish the awesome complex nature of our world.”

She hopes her art will help more people appreciate the natural world.

“The more people are excited for and encourage children to explore the sciences, the better our overall quality of life. Advancements in science and technology tie into nearly every aspect of our lives, including art,” she said.

Bell-Demers said it is rewarding to see students like Larkin and Olson pursue their dream to become professional artists.

“We need to engage the next generation of fine artists, help them cultivate their talent, and assist them with honing important skills to succeed in their creative journey,” she said. “We hope guests to Hidden in the Hills will support these emerging artists by visiting Youth Art Studio 1. Not only will you help build the confidence of these young artists, you could go home with the next Picasso or Remington.”


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