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FAMILY: Ventura County | FOR THE KIDS

The Big Picture

Youngsters arrange an art auction to help preserve the environment.


When Nicole Jaggi, a Camarillo 10-year-old, discovered last spring that an animal species she was fond of was in danger of extinction, she didn't waste any time with youthful hand-wringing or reproaching her elders for failing to preserve the planet.

She sat down with her friend, 6-year-old Rachael Wood, a fellow student at an after-school art class in Camarillo, and set about arranging an art auction to benefit two local environmental preservation organizations.

They organized a Young Artists Society with the help of instructors in their after-school art program, Young At Art, contacted the potential beneficiaries of the auction--the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Center--and issued a call for entries in a juried art contest and auction for artists ages 4 to 17.

Entries will be accepted from Friday through Oct. 1 at Young At Art's two locations, in Camarillo and Westlake.

"I want to go into saving endangered animals," said Nicole, whose career goal was inspired by her participation in a Moorpark College summer program for kids.

After that program she wanted to do more, but discovered that environmental organizations she was interested in considered her too young to volunteer to help. "So we [she and Rachael] made our own club and said 'Oh, let's do a fund-raiser for endangered animals."'

The girls' teachers, Elois Brett-Kress and Diane Demeter, credit the youngsters with taking the initiative in this project. "For a long time we [teachers] have been talking about doing an auction of art by children for charity," Brett-Kress said. "This idea of the girls' was really great--and it lets people know kids really care about a cause."

The competition, which will be judged Oct. 3 by a jury of three artists from the Westlake Village Art Guild, is expected to attract nearly 200 young participants.

The rules limit the themes of the submitted pictures to endangered animals or landscapes, no larger than 9-by-12 inches, but the media allowed include watercolors, pastels, oils, pencil or photography.

Demeter believes the auction, which will be held at the Westlake Promenade on Nov. 1 and 2, will attract buyers. "A lot of art schools, public and private, have auctions--for PTA and after-school-program fund-raising," she said.

Young At Art maintains displays of student art in several local restaurants--originally just to provide attractive decorations. "Recently somebody paid $40 for a cat picture by a 7-year-old," Brett-Kress said. Another student was recently commissioned--at $50--to do a portrait of a couple's dog.

It's common for art schools to get offers for youngsters' work, and Brett-Kress is encouraging other local art schools to invite their students to participate in the auction. "We've seen art [by local children] that'll take your breath away. And kids love it, having sold a piece of work," she said.


"Wildlife on Canvas Through the Eyes of a Child." Juried art show and auction for artists ages 4-17. Entries accepted Sept. 19 to Oct. 1 at Young At Art locations, 3665 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake, or 2120 Ponderosa Drive, Camarillo. Information: 374-1177 or 389-9686. Proceeds to benefit Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center.

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