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Buffalo Public Schools student arts show at the Central Library

Celebrating Art 2012

The Buffalo Public Schools’ art show currently at the downtown library features excellent work from students of grade levels pre-kindergarten through high school.

The early graders make it look easy. Actually, for them, I think, it is. In their innocence, before they’ve come to discover and fully assimilate imagination-hobbling principles of self-criticism, self-doubt. And so, delightful work from the toddlers, such as Jenna Evens’s pencil and watercolor self-portrait, Me in the Ballet Room, showing the artist/subject looking slightly overawed but not in the least intimidated by the balletic project at hand. Or Zymiar Andrews’s fresh-vision depiction of an apple tree, focusing on essentials: sturdy brown trunk, a few scarlet-red apples amid generous green foliage, and blue sky.

But delightful and gratifying work by some of the older students who seem to have passed, or are passing, through the crisis period unscathed. Imaginative faculties intact. Such as Than Than Tway’s natural wonder world vision of trees and flowers in bloom, and prominent butterfly, and emphatic rainbow tying the world together. Or Eh Ka Paw’s arresting, painterly, realist multi-portrait entitled We are Lafayette. Or Hanan Saeed’s witty papier-mâché sculptural bent cigarette, with the brand name, discreetly press-type-lettered just below the anodyne filter, No Benefits.

Imagination in play even when the assignment is to mimic famous other work. For example, Christian Santiago’s remake of van Gogh’s Starry Night, of which Christian produces a reinterpretation more than an imitation, less dazzlingly starry, less blatantly emotional, more intensely psychological. Whereas, Angelica Vazquez Beltran’s remake of a Rembrandt self-portrait is remarkable for the way it captures the essential vitality of the Rembrandtian model. Something about the eyes that no other artist ever achieved in a portrait or self-portrait. That makes a Rembrandt self-portrait more the person than a painting. Angelica’s piece manages that, too. Wonderful.

There are several multiple-artist works. A piece variously called Keaneville or Ms. Keane’s Class Project, a collage of images of buildings of various sorts in various artists’ hands harmoniously arranged into a most pleasant and attractive community. Also an exquisite work consisting of variations-on-a-theme abstract floral pattern squares within squares, one large square each by artists Jadan Berry and Bu Meh.

A most unusual and interesting work is Mariamo Mwalimu’s elaborate watercolor and oil pastel panorama depiction of a volcanic explosion in Kenya, showing the mountain erupting and lava flowing in the direction of the village, but not yet arrived at the village, apparently, where numerous dwellings seem safe and unharmed for the moment, and people in a line in the village square, heeding the legend inscribed above: People out of the house.

Among much other excellent work, Jordan Flynn has an extremely benevolent-looking (despite breathing fire) protector dragon on night watch over a peacefully sleeping city. Alexei Lozada has a brilliant green grasshopper against a lackluster grayish background, like wrinkled parchment paper. The work has the vivid visual quality of an image in stained glass. Tyrecese Honeycutt has a superb caricature full-figure depiction of a bowler in energetic bowling action. Panisha Pradhan has a beautifully precise drawing of an architectural scene, called A beautiful town. Tony Ayala has a boldly colorful mosaic collage self-portrait, and Corvonte Jones a portrait of Jackie Robinson in black and white acrylic, similarly impressive portraiture. And Hailey Klimek has a convincing depiction of Fun in the snow, consisting of basically just a big happy face and huge mittens.

The students’ art show continues through May 25.

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