Youth art exhibit at Uptown Gallery celebrates Youth Art Month


Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

This Friday, March 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. is the opening reception for Uptown Gallery’s Youth Art Month Student Exhibit.  Art-instructor-selected student art from five Macon County Schools is on display until March 30 in the central alcove of the Main Street gallery in downtown Franklin. 

“If something like this would have happened to me when I was little, I would be amazed,” said Carol Conti, career artist and current president of the Macon County Art Association. “It would have been as exciting for me as a student to not only be part of a gallery showing, but to also have a reception.” 

The public, family, friends, and school educators and administrators are invited to attend the reception, view the various art mediums, and enjoy food and refreshments. 

Art instructors from Cartoogechaye, South Macon, Iotla Valley, and East Franklin Elementary Schools, Mountain View Intermediate, Franklin Middle School, Nantahala School, Highlands School, and Franklin High School were asked to submit six to eight pieces of student art. All total, about 60 pieces of art by students from grades kindergarten to high school are on display at Uptown Gallery. 

“I’m just really pleased with what was submitted,” said Conti.

Assisting Conti in the organization and display of all the student art pieces was Tracy Hagan, visual arts instructor at Franklin High School for the past three years. “I’m just so excited for this opportunity for students,” she said. 

Chris Bell, a social studies teacher at Macon Middle School as well as a landscape artist, oversees an after-school art club since Macon Middle does not have an art instructor. About 40 students attend the club regularly during the spring semester. A few other teachers assist Bell. This year, the club has concentrated on photography, comic drawing, origami, and pencil portrait drawing. A selection of the latter was chosen for the Uptown Gallery exhibit. 

Some of Bell’s own landscape paintings in oil were chosen as part of an exhibit running until April 27 at Blue Spiral Art Gallery in Asheville. 

Annually, the Council for Art Education celebrates March as Youth Art Month. This is the first time, according to Conti, that Uptown Gallery has focused on a wide range of art mediums from so many different Macon County schools. Last March was a focus on art submitted by Trimont Christian Academy. 

“We plan to focus on student art every year,” said Conti. “And, in fact, next year we will have an exhibit for art instructors in February and then focus on students again in March.” 

Uptown Gallery is open to view the Youth Art Month Student Exhibit, as well as other professional artists’ works, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. during the month of March.