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Community members of all ages participate in event at the Spiral Gallery in Estacada, which is featured this month

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Shawn Reeves, 17, is one of the participants in this years student art show at the Spiral Gallery.

When Shawn Reeves first began painting, he would often just put a single dot on the canvas.

His mother Kellie thought that the process may have initially created a sensory overload for Shawn, who has autism. But his teacher, Sara Berkley, worked with him by adding one element to the piece, and then allowing him to choose the next one.

Shawn, 17, is one of the community members to have work featured in the Spiral Gallery's student art show. Every January, the gallery at 341 S. Broadway Street holds a month-long art show open to participants of all ages.

Shawn has participated in the student art show for four years. This year, he has two paintings and a collage featured in the exhibition. Sean noted that painting is his favorite medium.

His collage is inspired by his family's love for the music of Stevie Nicks and includes a photo and quote from the musician.

Kellie noted that Sean's art style changed upon the death of his cousin, Amanda.

"Before, he used a lot of red, and after, everything was purple. That was her favorite color," she said. "He even painted his shoes purple. Now, he's slowly adding in new colors after three years."

Kellie is proud of her son's participation in the student art show.

"Other people can see his skills. It gets him out in the public more," she said. "I love that they call and ask him (to participate) now."

She also appreciates seeing her son's work. Sean is sometimes nonverbal, and art gives him another outlet for communication.

"It lets us know what's in his mind. He can make his own choices (in art)," she said. "It's an expression of Sean."

All in the family

Bella Thompson inherited a love of art from her grandmother.

"(Bella) has always been very artistic," said her mother, Maigen. "Even as a toddler, she wanted to do that rather than sports or dolls."

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Bella Thompson, 10, has several paintings in the Spiral Gallerys student art show.

Today, the 10-year-old student at Clackamas River Elementary School has a small art studio in their home, from which she's created several pieces that are featured in the Spiral Gallery's student art show, including jack in the boxes and paintings of flowers and a jellyfish with a mustache.

She noted that one of her paintings initially stemmed from what she considered a mistake. While she was working, the paint spilled onto the canvas, and she later transformed the spill into a flower that she named Moana.

"I looked at it from a different angle and tried to see a way to fix it and do something else," she said.

Her inspiration for her jack in the boxes came from seeing different items.

"I saw a pom pom, and I saw a box. I thought, 'Why not make a jack in the box?'" she recalled.

Bella has participated in the student art show for the last three years. She said that she feels proud to be included for another year, noting that one reason she enjoys the event is seeing what people think of her work.

"Maybe a piece gets sold to someone who appreciates it," she added. "I feel good about the pieces I made."

Along with her participation in the student art show, Bella also sold work at a Kids Art in the Park event in Estacada last summer.

The inheritance of artistic inspiration in the Thompson family doesn't stop between Bella and her grandmother. Bella has also inspired her younger brother's interest in art.

She plans to continue creating art for a long time.

"I hope to go into art shows like my grandma," she said.


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