Art for children's sake: South Portland cafe, Boys & Girls Clubs put on a show

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Merveille Bamba shyly pointed to her artwork hanging on the walls of Cia Cafe Tuesday evening, a self-portrait and a painting of sunflowers.

“In Congo,” she said, “we didn’t have competitions and people didn’t come and see it.”

Bamba, 10, who now lives in Portland, said art is very important in her home country, but having artwork displayed in a public place is new to her.

“I am excited and happy,” she said. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine’s annual arts exhibit and judging drew a capacity crowd at the Knightville coffee shop, where works by accomplished local artists and photographers usually hang on the walls. The exhibit is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Fine Arts Exhibit; 125 pieces of art will be on display through Monday, Jan. 23. 

Students ages 6-18 from the South Portland, Portland, Riverton Park and Sagamore Village clubs participated in the exhibit. Thirty-two winners will be announced and will advance to a regional competition in New York and possibly the national competition later this year.

“This is my favorite night of the whole year, and I am very proud of all the members that participate,” said Erin Giwer, an art teacher at the Portland club. “It is a very big honor to have their work chosen.”

Giwer said the students were separated into four age groups and their artwork was entered in eight different categories – collage, mixed media, monochromatic, multicolor, oil/acrylic, pastel, printmaking and watercolor.

Officials from the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine said the organization has been hosting an art competition for at least 20 years.

Sayton Musse, 9, from the Portland club, has three pieces of art displayed in the show. She said she likes art because “I like to draw what I want and nobody tells me what I can and can’t draw.”

In Musse’s opinion, “Pablo Picasso is a good artist.” She added that he is her favorite artist and began to recite facts about Picasso’s life.

Musse said she would like to be an artist when she grows up.

“I want to go to art school,” she said. “I’m going to save my money to go to art school when I’m older.”

So far, Musse has saved $10 towards her goal.

Emily Bonville, 10, of South Portland, has an oil pastel, “Chameleon,” in the exhibit. Bonville, who likes lizards, said, “I have three lizards of my own. I thought why not draw one.”

She calls her three gecko lizards her “Geico lizards,” in reference to the well-known insurance company.

Rain Jordan, 11, from the South Portland Club, entered her piece titled “Go Fish” in the collage category. She said she enters the competition every year, but she doesn’t think she will win.

Jordan pointed to another student’s artwork and said, “I like the fish head. It was cool.”

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Julia Travis, 7, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine in South Portland, looks at art by other members at Cia Cafe in South Portland on Tuesday, Jan. 17.