Fostering the arts

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When Azita Footohi strolls through downtown Camas, she often finds herself doing a double take at the Ballard & Call gallery.Footohi’s paintings, including her grand prize winner from the Camtown Youth Festival, are displayed in the entryway, a first for the budding artist.

“It was my goal to get a grand prize at Camtown, and it is so nice to see something displayed,” she said. “This is pretty cool. I now realize how much it actually means. This is really good for my future.”

Her grand prize winner, “Restaurant Wine Glasses,” will be on display through July at the gallery, along with the work of fellow Camas High School student Jon Liao.

Liao, a junior, took second at Camtown for his drawing, “Timeless.”

Camtown is a youth-oriented festival which takes place at Crown Park the second Saturday in June.

“Azita definitely deserved the grand prize, but it was fun,” he said.

Liao is part of the CHS magnet program, as well as Science Olympiad.

“Working on science a lot, you need to explore a different part of your brain,” he said. “It’s fun seeing what you can do with other things. I enjoy being able to express myself in different ways.”

Footohi, a junior, mainly works in oil pastels and colored pencils.

“Interior design is really my passion,” she said. “I enjoy that aspect most.”

Footohi also won honors for her work at the Scholastic Art Contest, where her oil pastel won a “Silver Key” at the regional level. Those who win Gold Keys go on to compete nationally.

She finds inspiration through art classes, photos and magazine clippings.

“I have loved art ever since I was little,” Footohi said.

It is Liao’s second time entering a contest. He won first-place at Camtown in 2011 for his piece, “Taste of Summer.”

“Usually, I draw for my own benefit,” he said. “I entered Camtown to see how my work would place and to get involved in competition.”

Gallery owners Sharon Ballard and Marquita Call decided to display the Camtown winners after being asked to judge the art contest.

“We feel it is very important to foster the arts in schools,” Ballard said. “Art has been cut back in a lot of school districts and our bringing student art to the gallery will foster an interest in students doing something with their work.”

Call said that when the gallery first opened a year ago, her 6-year-old granddaughter wanted to display a piece.

“It got such notice,” she said. “It was like a treat right in the middle of the gallery. We decided to bring in kids artwork and mix it in with the adults. We wanted to make it important to them. We’re excited about this.”

Ballard is also hoping displaying their work will give students experience with contracts and visual presentation.

“They can learn some lessons early on,” she said. “This is exciting and we’re excited. Getting students involved brings parents to downtown, too.”

Ballard & Call is located at 408 N.E. Fourth Ave. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.