State award for Rogers artist: Scharber keeps her perceptive eye on cultures

"Monsoon," an acrylic painting by Leeann Scharber of Rogers
“Monsoon,” an acrylic painting by Leeann Scharber of Rogers


by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Leeann Scharber of Rogers is one of just five artists receiving Best in Show awards in the Minnesota Scholastic Awards competition.

“Monsoon,” her 20-by-24-inch acrylic of a rainy street scene in India, was one of the entrants chosen from a field of 1,829 in this online competition. The painting is currently on display at the high school office.

Leeann Scharber
Leeann Scharber

“I’ve always been interested in other cultures,” said Scharber, a senior, who  found a street scene photo online and made her own modifications including some vibrant color.
She earned two Gold Keys, the other for a mixed media  of a truck in a junkyard from a photo she took near her home.

“I love to make art about things that we often overlook, that can be very beautiful but are often forgotten,” reflected Scharber, who works mainly in acrylic and sometimes watercolor. “My multimedia work was done of a junkyard. My ‘Monsoon’ painting gave me a glimpse into life in India.”

Her interest in India was piqued when a friend visited there and showed her an array of photos. She also painted two small boys from Nepal.

“I think we often forget how different and beautiful life can be in other cultures and I think it’s important to be reminded of it.”

Teacher Su Sebghati noted that her brother Nathan was also a star artist at RHS. “Leeann is following in his footsteps and yet creating her own path,” said Sebghati.

Scharber didn’t start painting until last year but quickly developed a loose, mature, unique style, working not only in school but continuing at home for hours. She has completed more paintings than any other student, all of them “challenging and diverse,” Sebghati said.

“Leeann is fearless. She is not afraid to take on very difficult subject matter.  She doesn’t feel the need to make a slavish copy of a photo. It is as if she can see things through a different lens. … She paints with great confidence and yet still knows when to ask for another eye to look at her painting and assess it.”

Scharber plans to major in some art field, probably at the U of M or Winona State.

Four RHS artists got Golds

Sculpture by Lizzy Meyer.
Sculpture by Lizzy Meyer.

Along with Scharber, three other Rogers seniors also got Gold Keys in the Minnesota Scholastic Awards. They are Grace Cullen for jewelry, Taylor Kleven for both drawing and painting, and  Lizzy Meyer for sculpture.

Portrait by xxxx Kleven
Portrait by Taylor Kleven

The Gold Key works of art will be displayed at College of Visual Arts  in St. Paul from Feb. 6 to March 3.

Receiving Silver Keys were senior Kayla Felber (jewelry), Meyer (sculpture), senior Danny Madden (ceramics) and junior Marissa Zoubek (drawing).

There were 183 Gold Keys and 186 Silver Keys awarded from the 1,849 individual entries, along with 340 honorable mentions.

Jewelry by Grace Cullen
Jewelry by Grace Cullen

RHS students with honorable mentions were  Meyer (sculpture), Taylor (jewelry),  senior Jenna Swancut (jewelry), senior Zatalie Zarracina (drawing), junior Tessa Quintavalle (jewelry), junior Derek Jacobson (sculpture), sophomore Emily Bourgeois (painting) and sophomore Bobbi Jo Renneberg (jewelry).