FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:

People who attended “Freedom of Expression,” a charity event to help pay for art offerings in area schools, paint blocks of wood to show their creative side for a good cause at the Golden Nugget Laughlin.

 

LAUGHLIN — Art for art’s sake took on a completely different meaning Thursday at the Golden Nugget Laughlin.

About 70 people attended the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce charity event “Freedom of Expression,” during which participants could paint whatever they wanted. 

Proceeds from “Freedom of Expression” go to art programs at schools in the Colorado River Region. 

The $40 entry fee included materials needed to paint — including wood blocks — as well as appetizers and cocktails. 

The Golden Nugget hosted the event. This year’s theme was “Whiskey & Wood.”

“Statistics show that teen suicide and adolescent depression is on the rise. Our youth absolutely need a way to express themselves; whether that be through music, painting, photography or any other medium,” explained Jackie Mazzeo, executive director of the Laughlin chamber. “We felt it was our duty to make sure that happens and art has been proven to be a positive outlet for youth and adults as well.”

This was its third year. Mazzeo provided background on how this event originated in an announcement.

“It was apparent where we wanted the money to go. When discussing funding with local district representatives, I was made aware that the art programs are always the first to get cut,” Mazzeo said. “Laughlin schools had zero art funding.”

Funds will be split between the local school districts’ art programs within the Clark County School District, Colorado River Union High School District, Bullhead City Elementary School District, Mohave Valley Elementary School District, Topock Elementary School, two campuses of the Mohave Accelerated Learning Center, Young Scholar’s, Desert Star and Academy of Building Industries High School. 

The schools each use their share for whatever art-related need they choose. However, it has to be for a purpose that promotes student expression and “provides a healthy outlet,” according to information provided by the chamber. 

“I love helping the children,” said Brenda Canter of Golden Valley, whose creation depicted a patriotic sky. “They deserve to have art. Kids need to know how to be creative.”

“It’s really nice the community comes together for our local kids,” said Lisa Willett of Fort Mohave. “They need all the help we can give them.”

She painted a cassette tape titled with a John Mellencamp song, “Pink Houses.” 

Trained instructors were on-hand to help people fulfill their creative vision. Patriotic art and attire were encouraged, but not required — the night was for free artistic expression.

About 30 raffle prizes were donated, including painted stones of various sizes from members of Bullhead City Rocks as well as art supplies, some paintings and bottles of some of the signature drinks served there. 

A group of local celebrities’ paintings were auctioned off.   

A video camera made its way around the room so everyone could see what everyone else was painting. The reason was not only to provide inspiration but to encourage people to talk to each other about what they were painting and about themselves.

People interested in allowing their paintings to be auctioned off were encouraged to do so — auction money was also part of the proceeds.

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