A young artist works diligently to create a beautiful series of portraits using a variety of mediums such as acrylic, watercolor, and colored pencils.
Another artist expands his performance horizons by shifting gears from playing clarinet and saxophone during theatrical productions to working to perfect his vocal performance and comedic timing to play bootlegger Cookie McGee in Nice Work if You Can Get It.
These artists aren’t professionals in their crafts just yet. Instead visual artist Desiree Counterman and performance artist John Kear are seniors at Western Wayne High School who have been recognized as WVIA’s Artists of the Week for the Week of January 7th.
Each student will have a vignette produced about them that will be featured online at wvia.org and pbs.org beginning on Sunday, January 7 and will be available for one year.
Both students are now in the running to win WVIA Artist of the Year which is announced in May.
The students also will be featured across all WVIA television, radio, and digital platforms for the entire week of January 7th.
Later in the spring, the public can also vote for these students and other local students to win the Viewer’s Choice Artist of the Week award by viewing and sharing their vignettes on wvia.org.
Both Desiree and John said they felt surprised to be named to this honor but look forward to sharing their accomplishments in the arts with their friends, family, and the community.
“We are extremely proud that our talented and hardworking Western Wayne seniors are being recognized for their efforts in the arts,” Paul Gregorski, Western Wayne high school principal, said.
“I hope the public takes a moment to learn more about our students’ accomplishments by visiting wvia.org.”
On her WVIA segment, Desiree, a two year National Art Honor Society member, discusses her efforts as a visual artist at Western Wayne High School.
Currently she is working on her senior portfolio which she explains will feature a series of portraits.
“I enjoy painting,” she said. “People are my favorite subject to paint. I look for models for my pieces on Pinterest and sometimes I choose famous people to use.”
Desiree explained how she is most proud of the first piece she worked on this school year called “Flight.” The portrait is of a blonde girl from the collar bone up.
Desiree also incorporated cone flowers and tiger lilies in the piece. She used acrylic, water color, and colored pencil for this creation.
“I try to plan my pieces out first but sometimes they take their own paths,” Desiree said.
“For my senior portfolio series, I plan to make all of the pieces uniform but not identical. I want to have parts of each piece connect to other pieces.
“For example, for some of them, I have a color from one incorporated in another.”
Desiree also explained that her journey to becoming an artist hasn’t been easy. She discussed the challenges she has faced in working with different mediums.
She first enjoyed drawing sketches as a seventh grade student. In her ninth grade year, she really started to enjoy art as she explored using different mediums.
As a tenth grader, her biggest challenge involved using water color.
“It is difficult to blend and layer water colors especially when making skin tones,” Desiree explained. “My art teacher Ms. Flynn helped me learn this challenging skill.”
All of Desiree’s art teachers at Western Wayne are proud of her accomplishments including Western Wayne Art Teacher Suzanne Flynn.
“I am so glad she is being recognized for her talent in the visual arts,” Flynn said. “It has been a pleasure working to help develop her craft over the years.”
Desiree plans to continue her work as an artist as a hobby after graduation.
She wishes to pursue a career in cosmetology and says she believes her talents as a visual artist will connect well to this occupation.
“Both creating visual art and working in cosmetology are ways to express yourself,” Desiree said.
Fellow senior and WVIA Artist of the Week honoree John Kear also enjoys expressing himself through the arts in the area of music which is his specialty.
John has been a member of Western Wayne’s prestigious band for the past four years where he plays both clarinet and tenor sax.
This year John auditioned and was chosen to be one of two drum majors for marching band season.
“It was an honor to have this leadership position that enabled me to help my classmates work more efficiently together as a unit on the field,” John said.
For this year’s disco-themed field show, John had the honor of conducting the band for two pieces and then playing his clarinet for the other two.
During the concert season, John is the principal clarinetist and also takes part in the jazz ensemble where he plays the tenor sax.
John has participated in District Band for three years on clarinet. Last year, he also made it to the Region Band competition.
John’s Band Director Elaine Ort explained what she thinks has led to John’s strength as a music student.
“John’s enthusiastic spirit along with his talent is what led him to be an excellent student leader in band this year,” she explained.
“I believe that these qualities will continue to help him succeed as a musician beyond his time at Western Wayne.”
John continues to challenge himself as a musician even in his senior year by taking on new musical endeavors. This year was his first in chorus class at Western Wayne.
He will participate in the upcoming District Chorus Festival on the part of tenor two.
John will also showcase his vocal abilities in Western Wayne’s upcoming April production of the musical comedy “Nice Work if You Can Get It” where he will play the role of bootlegger Cookie McGee.
John played in the pit band for the previous three musicals of his high school career and looks forward to showcasing his talents on stage.
“I had seen this musical in a local production prior to auditioning and really thought that Cookie’s comedic antics throughout the show would be a role I could make my own,” John explained.
“I also look forward to getting to sing in the production since that is a skill I have been working to develop even more this year during chorus.”
Western Wayne Assistant Musical Director Sarah Calabro said she was impressed with John’s vocal abilities at his audition.
“I had seen John’s instrumental talents in the past but had never really heard him sing,” she explained.
“I greatly look forward to the school and local community enjoying his strong vocal talents in our upcoming spring production along with his comedic antics that will surely make the show interesting to watch.”
When John isn’t working on his many musical talents at Western Wayne, he shares them with the local community. This past summer John played in the pit band for The Ritz Company Playhouse Production of Curtains in Hawley.
John also shares his talents with the community through the Fife and Drum Corp. he created with his friends who are fellow musicians.
The group has played at various events sponsored by the Western Wayne School District.
Their next upcoming event is an Open Mic night to take place on Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m. in Western Wayne’s High School Cafeteria that is open to the public.
The group has also played at events in the community at large such as the Open House for the Wayne County Historical Society.
“Of all of my endeavors in music, I really enjoy running the Fife and Drum Corp. the most,” John said. “I get such a feeling of accomplishment after we perform. I like to work to help the group gain recognition in the local community.”
John hopes to one day work with young musicians to help them develop their craft which may lead to recognition for them at their school and community at large.
After graduation, John aspires to pursue a degree in music education and has applied to both Marywood University and West Chester University.
Both Desiree and John will be honored for their efforts in the arts at an upcoming Western Wayne School Board meeting.
The entire Western Wayne Community is proud of their efforts and encourages the public to find out more about them by visiting wvia.org starting on Sunday, January 7.