Grossmont Union High School District students featured at the Mission Trails Park Art Gallery

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Mission Trails Regional Park is a gateway to the wonders of nature in East County. Through the next month, the Visitor Center Art Gallery will offer a gateway for Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) art students. The exhibition includes 59 pieces of art created by top student artists representing 11 of the 12 high schools within GUHSD. 

Mission Trails Regional Park is a gateway to the wonders of nature in East County. Through the next month, the Visitor Center Art Gallery will offer a gateway for Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) art students. The exhibition includes 59 pieces of art created by top student artists representing 11 of the 12 high schools within GUHSD. 

For many students, taking an art class is a way to open the door to the world, much what Jenessa McKee experienced. A 10th grader at Santana High School, McKee has learned to view the world in a different way in a photography class. The black-and-white photograph she took of her own brother, 2-year-old Demetrious, not only seems to jump out from the wall of the gallery, it was the first art piece to sell.

McKee was excited. “We had an assignment in our class to take pictures of people. And we used black-and-white film. It’s like magic watching the images come up in the darkroom,” she said at the reception.

Her mother admitted she had not known it was a film camera that McKee was using. “That’s even more amazing,” said Jennifer McKee. “It’s so cool to see Jenessa excited about something from is learning at school.”

Melissa Saliwan, a senior at Steele Canyon High School, had her family with her to admire the acrylic she had painted of a Maui beach scene. Saliwan intends to enter the piece in the Del Mar Fair. She is already a veteran winner of several awards for art she submitted at the Del Mar Fair.

Saliwan’s art studies started with Ms. Francis with a one-year course of Art. She is into her fourth year and now doing independent studies with Francis.

“Art is going to be a part of my life no matter what career I choose,” said Saliwan. 

A whimsical illustration done with ink and watercolor called “Heavenly Peach Banquet” by Shannon Monahan” had visitors peering up close. She got the inspiration for the drawing from a song of the same name by musician Damon Albarn for the production of Monkey: Journey to the West.  The song is about a Chinese folk tale.

“When I listen to the song, I always imagine falling among peaches, which just happens to be my favorite fruit,” Monahan said.

Yet another student of Francis, Mary Cruz, had painted a lovely watercolor called “La Noche Polar” of Polar bears watching the Aurora Borealis. “I’ve never seen the Aurora Borealis, but I like to imagine what it would be like seeing it,” said Cruz.

At the reception. Francis congratulated and talked with her students with work in the exhibit.

”I make sure that the students get their hands on as many media as they can, so that even if they never take art again, they will appreciate the hard work of artists they see in museums,” Francis said.

El Cajon resident Cathy Roth summed it up with “There is some very nice work here.”

Jay Wilson, executive director of the MTRP Foundation, said . “The talent within these eleven schools is exceptional.” 

The artwork will be on display in the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center Art Gallery from December 14 to January 3, 2014.