Marysville celebrates 25 years of Art in the Park with stellar student art

Ask any of her colleagues, family, or students, and they'll confirm that Marysville High School art teacher Joanie Roehl is passionate about everything art-related. From creating four three-dimensional murals inside the school, to setting up unique displays of her students' artwork, Roehl is always looking for new ways to encourage her students' creativity.

These detailed masks were created by Marysville High School students. See more like them during Art in the Park. Photo by Heather BurtThat's why Roehl and her students have participated in Marysville's Art in the Park every summer for the past six years. The event gives the students a chance to publicly display their art, which Roehl thinks is essential for young artists.

"It's important for kids' art to be seen," she says, as she opens a glass display case holding some of the pieces to be featured at this year's event.

Inside one case in the high school's main lobby are incredibly detailed masks, made with upcycled electronics and CelluClay, a quick-drying alternative to traditional papier-mâché. The masks share display space with a collection of gargoyles, some of them fearsome, others downright adorable. Roehl is especially proud of the gargoyles, which students completed in less than two weeks.

Another case holds pieces from what Roehl calls the Creepy Dolls project. While the mostly-grey CelluClay gargoyles and Joannie Roehl shows off Creepy Dolls created by her art students. Photo by Heather Burt.masks all have a somewhat similar look and feel, the vibrant, colorful, and often genuinely macabre-looking Creepy Dolls are stunning in their originality--no two look alike.

"This was a great project," Roehl says. "It was amazing to see how each student interpreted this assignment, and I loved seeing the male students just as interested in sewing as the female students."

Roehl takes a pinkish doll from the case and points out the careful handiwork. The doll, created by AP art student Scott Russell, is beautifully made, and will be among those on display at Art in the Park.

Aside from being a stellar young artist, Russell will also be one of Roehl's students in charge of the display at Art in the Park. Roehl herself won't be there this year, but she's confident Russell and the other students are more than capable of running the show. Russell will draw on his years of experience at the show.

"I've been in the show every year that I can remember," he says. "It goes all the way back to elementary school." What does it mean to him, as an art student, to be part of Art in the Park? "It's a very good feeling, seeing what I've accomplished, as well as seeing the great work that other students turn out."

Karen Hartig, chairperson of the Marysville Friends of the Arts, who host the event, agrees with Russell and Roehl about the importance of young artists' work being seen.

"It's a great way for the kids and their parents to come out and be proud of their art," Hartig says.

She notes that although Roehl has been participating for the past few years, local students' art has been an important part of Art in the Park since the beginning, 25 years ago. That's why the Friends award a scholarship to one talented artist every year, and why, she says, she's hoping some of the students (and perhaps their parents) might take over the reins of the event once this 25th-anniversary milestone has passed.

"For Art in the Park to succeed, we need young blood, young artists, to get excited about it," Hartig says.

Maybe, just maybe, that excited young artist will be Scott Russell, or another of Joanie Roehl's art students.

The 25th Annual Art in the Park will be held at Marysville City Park at the corner of River Road and Huron Boulevard on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13. For more information, visit marysvillefriends.org.
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