Pleasanton Art League took a new approach this year with its 2021 Youth Art Competition, "PAL's Pals," allowing students to "enter an art show like a pro."
"Kids really approach art very differently from adults -- it is fascinating and unpredictable," said Jennifer Huber, an art teacher at Bothwell Arts Center, who led the organizing team. "The pieces showed sophistication and knowledge that can only come with lots and lots of practice."
Cash prizes were given for Best in Show and five Merit Awards, and ribbons for five Honorable Mentions in middle and high school categories. The virtual exhibit will run the month of May at www.pal-art.com.
The organizers planned the event to let the young artists have a professional exhibit experience, with guidelines for preparing and submitting a photograph of their artwork; teaching them the importance of giving credit when using another work for inspiration; and gathering comments from the judges as part of their art education.
Each participant was limited to a single entry to be evaluated by a panel of volunteer judges, to encourage students to make tough choices and submit their best.
The competition drew 52 entries from 13 middle schools and 13 high schools in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, Fremont, Union City, Danville, San Ramon, San Jose, Round Rock (Texas) and Aurora (Ill.). Students, ranging in ages from 10-18, submitted works in acrylic, oils, watercolors, alcohol markers, colored pencils, pencil drawings, charcoal, mixed media, digital art and gouache.
Judges were art league members George Garbarino and Tina Chan for high school, and Chandana Srinath and Nataliya Gavrilova for middle school.
"I love it that the artwork is all different," Huber said. "Some copied famous paintings or local artists or photos, but each and every piece in this show is unique. If I could hang this show in person, I would take the time to write up each artist's insights on their work."
The organizing team also included Marion Huff, Lorraine Wells and Meghana Mitragotri, who spearheaded the effort to have an exhibit entirely for young artists to compete. In addition, Usha Shukla and Linda Garbarino helped with ongoing publicity for the show, spotlighting two young artists every day on social media.
"I recommend everyone take a look at the show and read what each artist has to say about their work," Huber said. "It is insightful not just to 2021 but to a new generation of artists."