Inspiration to Last a Lifetime

Michelangelo was 17 when he finished his first sculpture. Courtney Johnson, the youngest artist showing her work this month at BayWoods of Annapolis, is eight — and her photo is nationally recognized. Beat that artistic legend.

“I paint to show people that everything has some kind of beauty in it,” said 18-year-old Colby Slade, the oldest artist in the BayWoods show and an art class regular at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. 

Art is one the club’s daily offerings because “we want kids to know they have options for fun and in life,” said Magdalene Garcia, director of programs at the Bates Boys & Girls Center.

The Boys and Girls Club show is on exhibit in Norair Hall at BayWoods through February to give the young artists “an audience of people who are interested in their artwork and them as individuals,” said art committee director Peg Burroughs, one of the achievers who retired to BayWoods. Burroughs edited and published Close-ups of History: Three Decades through the Lens of an AP Photographer, to complete the work of her late husband Hank Burroughs, the AP photographer of the title. 

The Boys and Girls Club show opened with a reception, complete with a piano player, refreshments — and 20 student paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures.

Earning additional distinctions were photos exhibited by artists Courtney Johnson; 14-year-old Kelsey Johnson; nine-year-old Adjah Savoy. All were nationally recognized by the Boys & Girls Club Association.

Kelsey and Courtney Johnson and Adjah Savoy stand in front of their photographs.

“I think its great, and I’m proud of our pictures,” said artist Courtney. Her photograph “Running Free” was honored again as the closing piece of 20 works in the gallery.

Eighteen-year-old Slade has three art works on exhibit: a self-portrait, a caricature and a still life of a journal. 

“This gallery is important because it shows the kids a safe way to handle problems,” she said. “If they are feeling something, they can draw or paint and work it out that way.”

Inspiration for the show came to Slade on an earlier BayWoods-sponsored bus trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

“Going to the National Gallery made me want to do art even more,” she said.

“It was way different so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Kelsey Johnson. “But I’m glad I went since art is a different outlet besides sports.”

The BayWoods Boys & Girls Club partnership was inspired by Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen’s January 2010 Youth Summit encouraging community involvement with youth.

“Both communities have gotten a lot out of it,” Burroughs said. 

“It’s important to get out of your neighborhood and see something new,” said club program director Garcia, who joined the kids on the trip.

“The mere idea of these young people standing up and talking about their art is a win in our eyes,” said Reginald Broddie, Bates Center CPO.

Shows come and go. Inspiration can continue a lifetime. Slade predicted it would for her.

“I will definitely continue making art alongside of whatever I’m doing,” she said, “because I never know what will happen in the future with my art and will always be able to express myself with it.”