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August 12, 2009
Van Shoe Art Show walks away with $1,400!

Sacramento County Probation Department

The Van Shoe Art Show held at last weekend's Second Saturday raised $1,400 for midtown's great work in progress - the VIBE Urban Youth Lounge, a nonprofit, teen-owned and operated career center that hopes to open next spring at 1725 K St.

Christina Giffin, VIBE's adult advocate, e-mailed me the results and the list of top winners. That would be those artists who took top honors for best creative work on a pair of plain white Vans.

"It was a great event, and I'm very happy for not only the kids but all the artists who participated," Giffin says. The show featured 25 artists who ranged in age from 16 to 52.

I promised a list of the honored artists, and here they are - with one particularly poignant story.

* Kara Schunk: Femme Fatale (best female artist)
* Jackie Nott: People's Choice (highest bid - $400)
* Erica Yoshino: Raising the Bar (Bold and Raw)
* Brent Patten: On the Rack (most commercial design)
* Eiland Hogan: Here To Stay (best adult artist)
* Zach Anderson: Diamond in the Rough (best youth artist, under 21)
* Aleksandr T.: King of the Jungle (best male artist)

That last award went to a teen named Aleksandr T., who is currently at the Sacramento County Boys Ranch and enrolled in Carson Creek Junior/Senior High School. He's enrolled in teacher Gabriel Romo's graphic arts class.

"Aleksandr asked to borrow a pencil about four or five weeks ago for an art project," Romo says. "He started drawing faces from a picture on his computer. When I saw his work, it kind of blew my mind. I'm an artist, and I immediately recognized it was amazing and highly detailed. The shading was so realistic.

"And he had never drawn before."

Aleksandr continued working and finished his drawing, which was passed around the classroom.

Through e-mails and other correspondence, Romo helped Aleksandr enter the Vans art show. He even picked up the plain white Vans for him. Aleksandr worked on a mock-up drawing and settled on the famous theater imagery of tragedy and comedy.

"He took the concept and designed a happy shoe that has a key that opens the door (to life)," Romo says. "The sad shoe depicts being behind bars with a lock."

For the Second Saturday event, Romo was able to get permission for Aleksandr to attend the show and meet the other artists. It was his first time leaving the ranch.

"He was blown away getting an award for his artwork," Romo says. "It was a life-changing experience for him. Now, I'm showing his work to other artists. He's someone who wants to work and use his hands. I'm just hoping someone will find a need for someone like him.

"He's very gifted."

To check out a great video of the presentation and comments from some of the artists,
click here.

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