Student artwork on display at Oak Hall until Friday afternoon

A college building in Oak Harbor will be jazzed up for a week with a smorgasbord of artwork, including one giant purple unicorn.

Lowell Sipes, art teacher at North Whidbey Middle School, has arranged an art show for students from kindergarten through 12th grade at Skagit Valley Community College’s Oak Hall.

The school district has a few shows throughout the year for artists, including the elementary art walk recently decorating Pioneer Way, but Sipes wanted something a little more formal for the students when he started teaching in the district last year.

He started this show last year, and it’s grown now in its second.

“I wanted there to be an opportunity for something that was a little more like a gallery feel,” he said. “Something off campus, so it felt a little bit more important to the students.”

The 150 or so art pieces were chosen from all the schools in the district.

The show includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more.

Sipes said he wished they could display everybody’s work, but there was limited space available in Oak Hall, not enough time to put everyone’s art up and “a smaller show gives more importance to each piece.”

“Everybody’s work deserves to be seen,” he said, “particularly if they put effort into it, and they do.”

A highlight for Sipes is art that came from a few students who felt like they didn’t belong in an art class.

He used the example of a few students who told him that they didn’t do art, they did sports.

“Each of these guys and girl found a way to express themselves artistically,” Sipes said.

One student made a baseball-themed piece, one a basketball-themed piece and another expressed her opinion that “girls can play sports, too.”

“That’s important,” said Sipes. “That’s what it’s all about. And that’s why it’s hard not to take everyone’s work.”

The show is open for everybody to come and see the pieces. Sipes said he thinks everybody should come and see it, not just to support the students, but for themselves.

“I would encourage them to get out and see beauty again,” he said.

But the most important thing is the students.

“I think it’s important to show our youth that we are there to back them,” said Sipes.

“If our standard is high, well, why don’t we show them how high it is by being the ones to display their work in an appropriate way?”

The community has played a huge role in making this show possible, according to Sipes.

WAIF donated frames to the show last year, and offered a really good discount on them this year, according to Sipes.

Habitat for Humanity donated doors, which Sipes turned into display walls for art, for the show. But he’s grateful to Oak Harbor as a whole, for being so supportive of the art programs in the schools.

Because of all the support, art shows for the schools are possible.

This show officially opened last Friday evening and is scheduled to be taken down after school this Friday.

“We want it to be about the kids, we want it to be about their work,” Sipes said.

“Just being a part of something that just feels so special, because only so many pieces can go in, I think is really the primary purpose.”


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates