Young artists show off their work: Boys & Girls Club has reception at Lakeview Plaza |

Young artists show off their work: Boys & Girls Club has reception at Lakeview Plaza

"Turtle" was drawn by 9-year-old Roslyn Pearce. Photos by Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

A new art gallery opened in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, in what might seem an unlikely location and with work from unexpected artists.

Lakeview Plaza – the home of Freshies restaurant and Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream – is hosting the gallery, which features the work of youths from the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.

“I think this will be a real community thing,” said Karen Houser, the club’s executive director, during Tuesday’s opening-night reception for the exhibit. “In our community, sometimes you forget there’s so much talent.”

About 100 people – club members, parents and friends, and curious members of the public – made it to the reception, which featured champagne for the grown-ups, sparkling cider for the kids, and chocolate goodies ranging from brownies to mousse.

Tim Christenson, owner of Push Fitness, said he was drawn to the event because his father was an artist. Christenson stopped to admire a pencil sketch called “Fading Away,” by 13-year-old Chelsea Rodriguez.

“You can tell she has talent,” Christenson said.

But he ended up buying “Snowfeather,” a sketch by 12-year-old Johnnalyn Covey of a cat with a feather on its head. The artwork at the exhibit can be “purchased” with a donation to the club – if the artist is willing to part with it.

Christenson plans to give the drawing to his 21-year-old daughter, a cat lover attending the University of Colorado.

Johnnalyn had mixed feelings about selling her artwork.

“I feel good it’s going to a new home, but I think I’m going to miss it a little,” Johnnalyn said.

Chelsea and Johnnalyn are among the Boys & Girls Club’s more serious artists, according to Julia Csanko, the club’s art coordinator.

“Every single day they’re in the art room first thing,” Csanko said.

Other club members are less intense about their art, but were enjoying the reception all the same.

“It’s good, it’s fun, I get to see my friends,” said 13-year-old James Hustler, a South Tahoe Middle School eighth-grader who was in charge of pouring cider.

James, who likes to draw planes, had on display a drawing of a World War II airplane – a P51D Mustang. He said he picked up some tips on drawing planes from a book.

The art exhibit and the big-city style reception were organized by Csanko, who grew up near New York City and is an artist herself. Houser said more than half the 45 pieces on display were “sold,” generally for donations ranging from $10 to $50. The club is willing to make prints of works that are in high demand.

Lakeview Plaza owner Cindy Rawlings said she agreed to have the exhibit at the center as a way to showcase and inspire the community’s young artists.

“It sounded like a fun way to draw people into the center,” Rawlings said. “My walls are kind of bare.”

Julie Shiflet owns the Dollar Queen store at the center, and her two daughters, 10-year-old DJ and 5-year-old Iesha, go to the Boys & Girls Club.

“The art show is going to be good, because it’s going to be presented like a real-life show,” she said on Monday while the exhibit was being set up. “So the kids feel like they’ve really done something.”

And the possibility of bringing more people into the plaza is a plus, she said.

“It can’t hurt. There are a lot of people who don’t know there’s a dollar store in town.”

The art exhibit will be on-going at the center, which is open from about 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Csanko said artwork will be rotated every few months to introduce new pieces. The club is also planning to display a few pieces at U.S. Bank.

For more information, call the Boys & Girls Club at (530) 542-0838.

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