Creativity on display at the gallery

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, February 6, 2016

About the closest I ever come to making art is when I’m able to get dressed in the morning in clothes that look good together. And there are plenty of folks who would question how well I succeed at that simple test of color coordination. Oh, how I sometimes long for the days of Garanimals.

That’s why I’m especially amazed when the Suffolk Art League holds its annual Exhibit of Excellence. This is the 32nd year the arts organization has featured the artistic endeavors of students in the city, and, as always, there’s an impressive array of actual art on display.

Our own Tracy Agnew visited the Suffolk Art Gallery on Bosley Avenue this week to talk to some of the winners of the juried exhibition, and she came back with a story that should make art teachers around the city proud of the work their students have done.

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The Best-in-Show winner, Robert White of King’s Fork High School, took the idea of artistic expression to a new level, submitting a secondhand pair of Vans shoes that he’d decorated with fabric markers in an effort to cover up the stains that were on them when he bought the shoes from a thrift store.

White had not intended to enter the shoes into the exhibition, but when he wore them to school one day, his art teacher, Stephanie Gwaltney, saw them and made him take them off then and there so they could be submitted for judging. He had to get his mother to bring him another pair of shoes to wear for the rest of the day.

If I’d colored a pair of shoes with marker when I was a student, my mother probably would have swatted me. But then, I’d never have done as good a job as White did with his own shoes, either.

About 118 works of art from 108 Suffolk students were selected for the exhibition. They can be seen for free at the gallery, which is located at 118 Bosley Ave. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The Exhibit of Excellence is on display through Feb. 28.

Take some time between now and the end of the month to stop and see the incredible talent and creativity these young folks display. And next time you think your shoes are ruined, maybe you’ll think twice about throwing them away.