Arvada Center show features Jeffco-grown artists

Shows open April 12


The 48th Annual Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition will open at the Arvada Center April 12 alongside two solo shows featuring Jeffco schools alumni Austin Parkhill and Jeffco schools teacher Keith Oelschlager.

For 48 years, the Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition has encouraged and supported tomorrow’s artists from the Jefferson County school district, many of whom go on to thrive as professional artists, or become teachers themselves. The exhibition features more than 400 works from 23 Jefferson County high schools ranging in medium.

“Giving students that opportunity to see that they can do this professionally and give them a place to be an artist is something that encourages them to go on to those professional jobs down the road after high school,” said Scot Odendahl, coordinator of the JeffCo Schools Foundation Show, and graphic design instructor at Warren Tech.

Student work will be displayed in the Main Gallery during the month long show and a reception and awards ceremony will be held April 29.

Austin Parkhill

Parkhill, a 2003 Arvada West High graduate, will be the featured Jeffco schools alumni artist with a solo show titled “Unselfie” featuring his large-scale photorealistic paintings.

The series began at a time when the selfie was picking up trend.

“It’s normal now, but it was really irritating to see an abundance of propped up versions of ourselves,” Parkhill said of the selfie photograph. “I really wanted to paint something big and loud that was in opposition — something more honest, something more real.”

For Parkhill, who now lived in Homer, Alaska, showing his work at the Arvada Center is in a lot of ways, a homecoming.

He will be showing work alongside Oelschlager, his former art teacher at Arvada West, who Parkhill said was extremely influential.

“It’s really special to me,” Parkhill said.

Keith Oelschlager

Oelschlager said showing next to a former students makes it feel like he’s come full circle.

A Colorado native and Alameda High grad, Oelschlager has been teaching drawing and painting at Arvada West for 20 years.

He spends every extra hour he can creating.

“It’s been an adventure trying to find a way to be an art teacher and also a working artist,” he said. “I’ve never been willing to just say forget it. I never wanted to give up my passions.”

Oelschlager is the featured Jeffco schools teacher with his solo show title “Personality of Place.” The exhibit will feature paintings of notable places around the Denver Metro area.

“I noticed that a lot of things that I loved from my youth were being torn down and evaporating,” Oelschlager said. “I wanted to start documenting and celebrating these places in my painting.”

Both Parkhill and Oelschlager will give an artist talk April 12 before the shows open. All three shows will run through May 12.


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