The Ojai Arts Commission Pairs Local Students With Artist Mentors

When Nordhoff High School student Audrey Hernandez is not working as a lifeguard at the Lake Casitas water park this summer, she can often be found in the studio of Ojai artist Vera Long, who is mentoring Hernandez as part of the City of Ojai Arts Commission’s summer arts-internship program.

“I am truly grateful for this energizing opportunity to foment Audrey Hernandez’s art career,” Long says. “I am continually impressed with her strong inner resolve and motivation, and all I see as my offering is to expand her parameters a little, and fill her possibility-toolbox just a little more. But this young lady needs no addition of talent and spirit.”

Hernandez is one of four local high school students currently participating in the city-funded Arts Mentor Program, now in its third year. The other students are Dylan Reed of the Oak Grove School, who is paired with the songwriter, producer and recording artist Smitty West; Madeleine Bigger of Nordhoff, paired with the author and writing consultant Catherine Ann Jones; and Felicity Evans of Villanova Prep, who is working with the mixed-media artist Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend and also with the typographer and Classic Letterpress owner Norman Clayton.

Hernandez, 16, is heading into her junior year at Nordhoff, where she will continue participating in the school’s Advanced Placement Studio Art program. But having the chance to study with Vera Long this summer is an education in itself.

“I feel very fortunate and lucky to have this opportunity to work with her,” Hernandez said. “She’s taught me so much already, and I’m excited to learn more.”

For Long, a member of the Ojai Studio Artists group, the city’s Artist Mentor Program is another example of the community’s commitment to fostering the arts.

“Many thanks to the Ojai Arts Commission for this wonderful program,” Long says. “Ojai is such a truly nurturing nest for proactive creativity. Thank you Ojai community for continually supporting your local artists – past, present and future!”

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