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The Young at Art

Work by Buffalo Public Schools students @ the Central Library

The art of about 200 Buffalo Public Schools students is currently on display at the downtown branck of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. They include any number of remarkably beautiful and interesting works.

Drawing by Jordan Tate Smalls of Burgard High School.

All grade levels are represented, from kindergarten through high school. The media range from pencil drawings to paintings to linoleum block prints, and the styles from abstract to figurative to something that might evoke the term magical realist.

A work called We Are Emerson 2010 consists of linoleum block print portraits of about 60 different students made into a large banner quilt.

A work called The world through my eyes, by Jordan Tate Smalls, a senior at Burgard, presents four meticulously drawn illustrations of different scenes from the life of an inner-city young man, revealing different personal aspects of the youth. There are public experiences or events, including hanging out with the gang—gang not in the sense of guys up to anything wrong or obnoxious, but just the guys, though the illustration leaves the matter, if only for the sake of gang self-respect, the least bit ambiguous—a session at a tattoo parlor, the no doubt unusual and so particularly memorable event for an inner-city adolescent of a winter camping trip in the woods, and a private-world scene of the artist’s extremely neat and tidy bedroom, the centerpiece of which is a bookshelf-type unit containing orderly piles of jeans and other apparel on the bottom shelves, on the top shelf various significant-looking sports trophies, and in the middle an orderly array of pairs of sneakers, being a cross between apparel and sports and other event memorabilia. It is a wonderful and complex artwork.

From Mang Suan Lian, a sophomore at Riverside, there’s a torn-paper collage called Bird in Flight, a mosaic of blue and brown construction paper, and sparse and cryptic verbal content that metaphorizes the bird into an image of adolescence taking or about to take flight. Nearly hidden among the bird’s lush plumage is wording such as “Truth Dare,” “color change,” and “Did you know.”

Davonna Taylor, a seventh grader at the Science Magnet School, contributes an exquisite tempera paint abstraction or semi-abstraction called Southwest Territory. In a remarkably harmonious blend of simple forms and limited colors, it depicts or suggests a mountain range in the distance, and watery foreground reflecting sky blues and mountain browns.

Navorria Green, a sophomore at Lafayette, has a wonderful depiction of a house façade in subtly intense red-browns and blues and magenta and patterns of horizontality—the prominent façade clapboards—against the insistent verticality of the overall structure.

A still life of a flower pot and flower and bowl of fruit on a table and diamond pattern wallpaper, all in pastel tones, by Brianna Hughey, a fourth grader at School 65, achieves a Matisse-like sense of artistic freedom and exoticism.

A tempera painting called My dog, by Ollyona Owens, a third grader at School 81, in translucent blues on white, is interesting also for the barely visible underdrawing in the lower portion of the work of what might be a very large fish pursuing a much smaller fish. Possibly a preliminary idea for this art project, replaced in favor of the canine idea, but never actually discarded.

In the magical realist category is an untitled work by Juan Jenkins, a fourth grader at the BUILD Academy. A central cosmic portion of night sky and stars and planets with occasional other elements including a flying school bus is enclosed by a series of frame areas replete with human figures and items such as ladders connecting to but somehow excluded from the central cosmic portion, which on closer inspection turns out to also contain houses in a row, one or more of which might even be on fire. A wildly imaginative work. Much going on.

The city students’ exhibit continues through May 20.

jack foran

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