Class inspires creativity in first-time artists at Los Banos High

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comMay 16, 2013 

Permanent marker and a skateboard deck were enough to inspire 17-year-old David Melendez.

"It's all freehand," the 11th-grader said. "I can add more arrows as I go along, but, generally, I just start off with a base amount of arrows and just go from there."

Last week's Los Banos High School art show featured the work of about 200 students, including David's, in several art classes -- visual design, ceramics and photography, among others.

David's skateboard deck won a blue ribbon the previous week at the Merced County Spring Fair. He also showed off his longboard skateboard, his preferred means of travel.

David said he looks up to professional pinstriper and Sharpie artist Chris Dunlop, who goes by "Pinstripe Chris." But, he said, he won't be following in the artist's footsteps, because he wants to be a pilot and has designs on the Air Force.

"It's definitely cool; I like being able to do it for people," he said, about his boards.

"I've always wanted to fly," he said.

David is typical of most art students at Los Banos High, said teacher Laura Corben. Most of the students are enrolled in an art class for the first time and are learning the basics.

"A lot of them, it's a new adventure," Corben said.

It's up to the students to take it the extra step, and put it on a skateboard, for example.

Acceptance into four-year colleges in California require a year of the arts, dance, drama, music or visual.

Corben said she wants her students to know not every art student uses his or her art degree to become a gallery artist -- there's fashion design, photojournalism and visual design, to name a few.

Donna Bracamontes, a senior, said she'll be studying studio art when she starts at California State University, San Francisco. She envisions a career in designing magazine advertisements.

"I like more of the computer side, just like designing things," the 18-year-old said.

Her monochromatic, mixed media, pencil sketches and other art were spread around the high school's Tiger Gym. Donna said she tends to lean toward the fantastic or surreal, and her art class led her to appreciate realism.

Donna said she resisted painting at first, but gave into Corben's prodding.

"I'm always stubborn with her. I'm like, 'I don't want to do it!' " Donna said. "Then I do it, and I like it."

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

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