Living is easy

Out for Summer

Toshadeva Palani in front of his 3-D photograph at the Holland Project's <i>Out for Summer</i> exhibition.

Toshadeva Palani in front of his 3-D photograph at the Holland Project's Out for Summer exhibition.

Photo By audrey Love

A pair of photographs, hanging one atop the other, is magnetic in the way it evokes a feeling of dread. Maybe not so much dread as … ickiness. In the photos, titled “Welcome Home (parts 1 & 2),” garbage is strewn across an unmade bed—the opposite of comforting or inviting—and a lonely occupant appears in the second, his hopelessness plain.

While the impact these two fairly small photos have is remarkable—the despair and gloom evoking in me an ache, a visceral response—what’s even more remarkable is their creator, Toshadeva “Tosha” Palani.

At the ripe old age of 16, Palani, a junior at McQueen High School, is an award-winning artist and filmmaker whose work has been shown in Reno at the Nevada Museum of Art, as well as at Sierra Nevada College and in New York City’s World Financial Center. With a complete lack of self-centeredness or cockiness, Palani says, “I actually only began to take my art seriously within the last year, mostly due to my photography teacher’s encouragement. I had made a few videos before that, but I only recently began to enjoy my creations.”

Ambitious work from up-and-coming young artists, such as Palani, is what you’ll find on display during the Holland Project’s Out for Summer exhibition, showing now through July 31 as part of Artown. The group show involved an open call to teens ages 13 to 19 for art—open media and open themed, in essence, completely rule-free, just like summer vacation.

Emailed requests for submissions, an open call on Holland’s website and on Facebook, and word-of-mouth at local schools and youth organizations helped attract a number of interested young artists. Van Pham, Holland’s arts and events director, credits teachers with a significant number of entries.

“I can’t emphasize enough how awesome the teachers have been in making sure their students get their work out in public venues,” she says.

Pham says the response was excellent, with more than 50 submissions coming from young artists around town. Nearly 30 artists were chosen to have at least one piece represented in the show, now on display at Holland’s gallery space on Cheney Street. Featured artists run the gamut from complete newbies whose parents and teachers encouraged them to submit something to more experienced artists like Palani.

“We chose pieces of [Tosha’s] that people maybe hadn’t seen before,” says Pham. “He’s a terribly impressive young man.”

But he’s certainly not the only impressive or award-winning talent being showcased here. Martin Gonzalez, 18, heard about the show through The Children’s Cabinet’s Art of Childhood program. “I started three years ago. I never took classes, nor did I learn from anyone else. I just simply picked up a brush and started painting.”

Though he professes to have no aspirations for a career in art, Gonzalez’s acrylic painting, “A Mother’s Tears,” displays enormous talent.

“A lot of us here in the gallery were really taken with that piece,” says Pham. At once energetic and melancholy, the distortion of the painting’s face tells an incredible story.

That and his second piece, “Life Behind the Pretty Face,” were inspired by a pain that “smacked” him right in the face—his parents’ separation.

“It’s a really good range of work,” says Pham. “I really enjoy being able to look at it all and see some that’s a little more mature in concept, while some really reminds me of what it’s like to be a teenager and in an art class … where it’s a bit mushed and jumbled but still has a lot of really good energy.”