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The artist wears shoes with little lights in the soles

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Tazara’s work is forever young

What: The Art of Tazara

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Artist reception Oct. 2, 5-7 p.m.; exhibit Oct. 1-30

The artist is wearing sneakers with little red lights in the soles that blink as she skips down the path to her neighbourhood park in Black Tusk Village. Her friends once saw a bear nearby, she says. They thought it was their dog at first, but then they realized it was a bear and they were really surprised and scared.

The interview with the artist continues on the swings, slide and monkey bars. Her favourite colours are pink and blue, her favourite toys are her mauve and yellow little ponies, she has a princess dress and when she grows up she wants to be just like mom.

The artist is Tazara Campbell Lopes, the featured exhibitor in the MY Place upstairs gallery for the month of October. She also happens to be a five-year-old Kindergarten student at Myrtle Philip Community School. She’s no robotic über-child, just an extremely creative little kid with big blue eyes and pink ribbons in her blond ponytails, who loves to draw.

She also happens to have an extremely creative mom who saw a unique aesthetic in her daughter’s artwork and figured out a way to turn it into the gorgeous, brightly-coloured pieces that will hang on the MY Place walls during the coming month.

Cary Campbell Lopes, a local artist and graphic designer who works out of a studio in the family’s Black Tusk Village home, convinced Tazara one day to draw directly onto a forest scene canvas she had completed and with which she was not entirely satisfied. The addition of Tazara’s happy, cartoonish people turned the dark, tranquil work into a bright, swimming-hole scene. Mother and daughter have been working side by side ever since. Cary brushes simple backgrounds onto canvas; Tazara adds the people or fairies or dragonflies, or Wizard of Oz characters.

Aside from the upcoming exhibit, their work has been displayed in Esquire’s Coffee House and on the cover of this publication back in July.

Their paintings are both lush and whimsical, bursting with colour and happy innocence. Tazara may be five years old, but she draws with a maturity that invokes a Charlie Brownish comic strip feel. Some of her work could even be compared to that of John Kricfalusi who has made sparkling backgrounds and large childlike grins part of his iconic Ren and Stimpy series. Sure she’s a kid, but for those who appreciate the kitschy cartoon aesthetic, her work has a hipster cool.

And luckily Tazara’s five-year-old brain hasn’t yet learned to be confined by frames, as some of the most charming work features characters sitting on the edge of the bordering wood pieces, or trailing snow off the edge of the frame as they catch big air in the snowboard park.

The show will also feature a couple pieces with drawings done at the same age by Tazara’s now 10-year-old sister Kianna while the family still lived in Hong Kong.

While the artist in Cary is excited to display the unique creative collaborations between her and her daughters, the mother in her is simply happy to have a permanent window into the minds of her children at five years old. The paintings are, for her, a way to immortalize the flimsy fridge drawings that tend to get lost and torn, leaving no record of a time when shoes had little lights in the soles and a walk to the park was a grand adventure.

The Art of Tazara will be displayed through the month of October in the upstairs gallery at MY (Millennium) Place. A kid-friendly artists reception takes place on Thursday, Oct. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. during which youngsters can add their own Tazara-like touch to an eight-foot-long canvas destined for the walls of the new Spring Creek Community School.

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