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Exhibit lets young artists put best foot forward

Fri., Sept. 5, 2014

Their canvases arrived in shoe form – Converse All Stars, to be exact.

A series of workshops over the summer put blank pairs of sneakers and art supplies into the hands of 15 or so youths, ages 7 to 19.

The results will be on display tonight at “Convo Art,” an event slated for the Luxe Ballroom on the west end of downtown as part of First Friday. The youths painted their shoes in swirls and blocks of color. One pair is a take on Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Tonight’s event also includes DJ and break-dancing performances.

The workshops were led by volunteers from Art Matters, a group that aims to help connect Spokane-area youth to the arts.

Art teachers who led the workshops talked about the color wheel and design concepts. But the workshops also aimed to cultivate a sense of community connection, said Beverly Hill-Kleinstein, an Art Matters founder.

The idea originated with a 13-year-old group member. Dylan Soth first proposed an art project he’d seen online as a way to engage other kids in the community: a car painted with chalkboard paint, chalk left on the bumper and people invited to draw on the vehicle.

“But it was a little bit out of our budget,” he said.

Group members decided on shoe art instead. They invited some participants through nonprofit organizations that work with youth, including Odyssey Youth Center and Crosswalk Teen Shelter. Others were invited by Soth and his mother, Susana Soth, as they distributed art supplies to homeless young people downtown. Others were friends of Dylan Soth, an eighth-grader at the Libby Center.

In reaching out to other young people, Soth said, his aim was to help provide a link to the broader community.

“I kind of wanted to give them a chance to express themselves and let people know that they’re there,” Soth said.

Adrian Rogers

When: 5 to 9 tonight

Where: Luxe Ballroom, 1017 W. First Ave.

Admission: Free

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