Student artists shine at Morro Bay exhibit

Sam Lester shot ‘Dinner’ with a Canon EOS Rebel XSi digital camera and one light source.
Sam Lester shot ‘Dinner’ with a Canon EOS Rebel XSi digital camera and one light source.

The Morro Bay Art Association is encouraging young artists — recently bestowing 43 awards totaling $11,600 to students at four county high schools, Cuesta College and Cal Poly.

The awards were for drawing, painting, ceramics and photography.

Unlike many older artists, the students mostly eschewed still lifes or landscapes, although animals were a favorite.

Many students focused on portraits and futuristic topics; humor, pathos and bizarre themes were also prominent.

Sam Lester said his first-place photo, “Dinner,” was sparked by a documentary on old family photographs.

“I just decided to take a more dark approach than the family-friendly one,” said Lester. The Cuesta student, who has been taking photos since he was a freshman at Morro Bay High School, hopes to focus on art with a minor in photography as he continues his education.

Alison Cochrane, whose colored pencil drawing titled “Fused” earned the Herb Kaiser award, is a senior at Morro Bay High School.

“I’ve always really liked the concept of organic and machinery combined together,” Cochrane said, “so putting gears into someone’s face is unexpected and different.”

Many of her drawings include such concepts, she said. Cochrane, who decided in fifth grade to pursue art as a career, has explored various media, but colored pencils are her favorites. “I take them everywhere,” she said.

At 36, Ryan Williams is probably one of the oldest students in the show. He returned to school after a 12-year hiatus, while raising a daughter.

“I’ve been around the block a few times,” the Cal Poly student said.

His mixed-media drawing of “A Portrait of the Artist as Coltrane” shows a man walking, with his face covered by a record album bearing the picture of tenor-sax musician John Coltrane. It earned the jazz aficionado a blue ribbon.

Cuesta student Cassidy Sutton’s assignment was to do something personal, but she didn’t want herself in it, so she paid homage to her grandfather as part of her grieving and healing process.

He died early this year. Her 3-D creation titled “W.M.L.” includes a foam-board, cut-out frame with an apple and snakes.“It’s kind of Adam and Evesie, although not really,” Sutton said. She recalls her grandfather tossing a snake from the path as she and other children were hiking in his orchard.

“He was our hero,” said Sutton, who was raised in Atascadero and now lives in San Luis Obispo. Her grandfather grew apple and walnut trees in Templeton. “It was like a playground,” said Sutton, who fondly remembers spending time there in her childhood. Her work’s centerpiece is a physically correct heart, as her grandfather died of cardiac failure. Sutton took a blue ribbon in her category.

“Maybe I was a little bit too generous,” said show chair Teresa Griswald, regarding the amount spent on awards. “But these students are just so deserving. That’s what we work for all year.”