After 150 weekly meetings at the Newberg Public Library, the group of teens shows no signs of slowing down

When George Fox University student Bryce Heimuller was in high school, he and a few friends often visited the public library for a teen game night. Then they wondered to themselves, why didn't Newberg have something similar?

So in 2015 they decided to change that. GARY ALLEN - Newberg High School junior Nathan Beals (foreground) pens a drawing of a team he went to Africa with on a missionary trip, while senior Donovan Lewis uses software to draw a backpack that converts to a chair. It is part of his senior project at the school.

Heimuller spoke with K'Lyn Hann, senior librarian at the Newberg Public Library who oversees teen and tech activities, and they were given the green light to start a club of their own. But rather than have a game night, Heimuller and his friends decided to focus on something else: art.

"On July 17, 2015, we had our first meeting and we've had it weekly ever since," he said.

Hann said Heimuller stepped up to be a library volunteer once she offered the friends space for their art club.

"It was the right offer at the right time," she said.

The group grew from an initial five members to around 12 or 13 now, although Hann said as many as 18 youths come to the Friday afternoon sessions for collaborative art projects.

"We don't have any strict rules of what type of art you have to do," Heimuller said, adding there can be several different projects going on at once in various mediums, including music, painting and digital art. "Sometimes people just come to talk art and make friends."

He added that the art club is a good place for teenagers to come and be part of a community.

Hann said the group of students who started it, who are now in college but many of who keep coming back to lead the club, are a dedicated bunch.

"They're very committed to it," she said. "They've made a home at the library. It's nice to be able to help them find a niche."

While there have been a few meetings over the years that had to be called off, either because of vacations or other absences, the meetings have by and large gone on ever since. Heimuller, who studies illustration at GFU, said he's enjoyed making art for most of his life, and starting the club was a big moment for him. Using his major now, he wants to teach others what he's learned, as well as continue to learn new platforms from others.

"It's really special to me to be able to do art with my friends," he said.

The activities vary week to week, but the club typically gathers from 3 to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

Heimuller said there is never a set schedule of what people are working on. That flexibility is nice, he said, because it lets people work on different things. For example, for a few months in 2016 the club collaboratively worked on a parody video series of an animated series. They've also done work with virtual reality sets. At other times it's just groups of people drawing or painting, maybe with someone playing music in the background.

"We're all close, there's a lot of community," he said. "That's really what makes the art club special."

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