Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Provo High School art students' artwork is on display at the Downtown Provo Store Window Gallery.

PROVO — Childhood conjures up images of good times, no stress and anticipation for the future.

That was the focus for 80 students at Provo High School as they created paintings from which art teacher James Rees selected about 40 pieces for display in downtown Provo.

It's the first time he has used the theme of reclaiming childhood, he said.

Senior Betty Ruiz realized she sees things differently now. Her artwork is a picture of a toy gun.

"While I was drawing my toy gun, I was thinking of the way I used to see things when I was younger. I remember seeing things as shiny and how they caught my attention. Now, something as simple as a gun can take on a lot of different meanings. I tried to capture that in my drawing, especially the way the light reflected across the toy," she said.

Remembering childhood also affected Sam Reed, a junior.

"It was refreshing to go back to the childhood basics of art, enjoying and reacting to color with crayons," he said.

Crayons also brought 12th-grader Abby Christiansen back to her childhood.

"This piece of work was really fun for me. I loved drawing and coloring with crayons, as I would have as a child. The toy guns and water guns made it especially fun because they reminded me of playing with my favorite boy cousins," she said.

Students from the charter schools, Walden Junior High and Walden High School, are showing about a dozen pictures, teacher Sunnie Bybee said.

Her students have been working with an image transfer system, learning to transfer an image from paper to an acrylic-base paper using acetone. Then they paint the picture on its new surface.

Student Lou Niedfeldt created a painting of a rose blooming out of a city of rubble.

"It symbolizes a rebirth, showing that no matter how broken and tattered something is, it can always grow back, sometimes better than when it started," he said.

Lauren Slagowski's painting is also symbolic.

"(It's) of a slightly transparent skull on a chess board, with a knight off to the side. The word Darwin is in the upper right corner. This painting basically symbolizes how life is a strategy ... and survival of the fittest," she said.

The artwork is part of the Storefront Galleries project by the Provo Downtown Business Alliance. Vacant store windows are used as galleries until the shops are leased or sold, said coordinator Raquel Smith-Callis. The ongoing program has had as many as nine vacant store windows for local art, many pieces from professional artists, but now it has just five, she said.

"The artists love it," Smith-Callis said. "They love being downtown."

If you go . . .

What: Storefront Galleries student art display

Where: 250 W. Center

When: through Nov. 20

Cost: free

E-mail: [email protected]