To sit on? Yes, and to paint |

To sit on? Yes, and to paint

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

Kaleb Horman, a junior in high school in Summit County, and Claude Monet have more in common than one might think.

Horman, like his forefather, is an aspiring artist who loves impressionism. As part of an ongoing project with the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artists’ Academy, Horman decided to recreate a distinguished Monet painting on the upholstery and legs of a chair.

The yellow leaves of a tree shimmer on the seatback, a recognizable ode to the original. The seat and legs are still carte blanche, covered in white primer.

The unique, almost whimsical, multimedia project students have taken on for the academy distinguishes it from more de rigueur art classes. In August, the program’s 10 students each selected a famous painter’s work to reproduce on chairs salvaged from the Christian Center of Park City and other places.

After several layers of paint, the emerging creations depict a range of artists, the soup cans and comic strips of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein for some, Salvador Dali’s melting clocks and Dennis Loren’s album art for others.

Students will sell the chairs at the Park Silly Sunday Market this summer, where they also plan to paint faces.

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Academy kids ages 13 to 18 come together in one of the Kimball’s basement workshops for three hours every Thursday. Besides personal projects that test students’ meddle in photography, ceramics and mosaics, among other media, they attend lectures and volunteer for nonprofit organizations.

Academy members will spend Monday painting scenery at the Egyptian Theatre for the Youtheatre production of "Once on This Island." The group has also painted one of the decorative moose sculptures around town.

One selling point for parents is that tuition is free, and the Kimball provides most of the supplies and instruction. Applications for the program, open to kids in Summit and Wasatch Counties, are due May 14.

Jenny Diersen praised the program’s uncoventional approach to service and nontraditional art. The goal of the Young Artists is to expose students to a variety media and help build portfolios to apply for college programs.

"A lot of times in high school, people think they can only be an artist by being a painter or sculptor," Diersen said. "We try to use art to get them to problem solve. We want to give kids the chance to do projects they may not be able to do on their own."

An early start is important for kids who want to bushwhack a path to being a professional artist. It takes more than passion and skills, Diersen said. It takes an overall vision rife with recurring themes that reflect a larger vision.

If all that seems a little heady, consider that many Young Artists, like Maggie Avila, begin the program as freshman in high school and spend the next four years working with instructors.

Avila, who is in the ninth grade at Treasure Mountain International School, chose to make a collage with clippings from magazines, paint and marker for her chair. Dennis Loren, the artist responsible for some of the iconic posters and album covers of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, is the source of her inspiration. She wrote lyrics from Led Zeppelin’s "Kashmir" on the seatback in honor of her horse, who has the same name. "My dad likes the band a lot," she added.

Avila joined the Academy in September. She said the laid-back approach of instructors and the challenge of working on eccentric pieces has kept her coming to class.

Others name individual attention and community service as primary attractions. Blake Petersen, a sophomore at Park City High School, has participated in the program for two years. She remembers drawing the post office in Old Town and decorating ornaments for the Peace House.

Her Lichtenstein-inspired chair is the grandest project to date, something she’s excited for the rest of Park City to check out.

The Young Artists’ Academy is open to Summit and Wasatch County students who are 13 to 18 years old and applications are being accepted now for 2009-2010. Deadline for application is May 14. A minimum commitment of six hours per month is required for meetings and activities.