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  Sunday, November 23, 2014
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xtra xtra!
Talented Teens
By Carol Masshardt

     (The focus of this series is on local teens who are involved in the positive pursuit of opportunities, and the agencies that reach out to them. The first two are of teens working at Artists for Humanity.)

     Brendan Powers, 17, a senior at Boston Latin School, is more than a responsible hard-working student and family member; he is also an artist.  Among the many gifts his mother, Joanne Fiske, gave to him prior to her death on 2005, was exposure to art, an introduction to a joy that is likely to last a lifetime. 

    

     Brendan can’t remember a time he didn’t have art. “My Mom was the most helpful. She gave me pictures to draw when I was really young, and then signed me up for classes at the MFA in sculpture and different things. My father paints, too. My mother brought me to the Artists for Humanity because she heard good things about it, so I brought in some sketches and checked it out.”  That was three years ago, and through the challenges of his young life, it has become a place to provide more than a studio and art lessons.

     “I love it here,” said Brendan. “There’s a freedom about it.  They don’t pressure you about doing things in a certain way. They aren’t critical, and they are helpful. They’re just Ok with it if it doesn’t turn out right. The other kids and mentors are awesome. I have grown and learned so much.. I remember a painting from seventh grade that I really hated. It was horrible. Now, I’m able to make paintings more like drawings, and I’m not intimidated.

    

     Brendan Powers is personable, focused and insightful, and all these qualities are evident in his paintings.  His preferred subject is portrait painting, which he typically does in acrylics.  Many seventeen year olds would be hard pressed to notice a younger sibling, but when Brendan was asked to point out a personal favorite painting, it was of his four year old sister.  It is this quality of noticing and caring that provides the intensity to his extraordinary work.

   

     The respect is mutual at Artists for Humanity.  “Brendan-he’s one of the most dedicated artists. He has a distinctive style that says, ‘I’ve been here before,’ but he is also developing and improving dramatically. He never follows what everyone else is doing. He had an image on his cell phone, and it became a painting masterpiece! His heart is so in the right place. I sit back and admire what he has done.” said Rob Gibbs, AFH painter and mentor. 

  

     Brendan was asked how a kid with a secret yearning to paint could best come alive. “I’d ask him why it’s secret,” he said with wisdom beyond his years.  “In my life, I can’t imagine not having art. It makes me happy. And here, when someone buys something you feel a kind of connection to that person.  For awhile after my mother died, I just couldn’t paint, because it is something I did when I was happy.  I couldn’t find the motivation, but my interest was always there.  I’d be miserable if I didn’t have it. I know that.” 

    

     With characteristic consideration when asked who had AFH was most influential in shaping his experience, Brendan began a long list, but stopped. “I am really worried that I will leave out someone. It might just be best to say that Susan Rogerson is the person who got it going and keeps it running. Artists can miss the point of deadlines, and she keeps it in mind and everything on track,” he said.

     As he enters his senior year, Brendan has the benefit of a life long home on “M” Street, a loving extended family, and the structure and possibilities that come with the Latin School. He also has a place-The Artists for Humanity-to be an artist.  “I don’t know where I’ll go to college. Some relatives are saying that the Rhode Island School of Design would be good; my Aunt Mary said maybe a good liberal arts school with a major in art. I don’t know yet, but I do know art will always be part of my life.”

  

     Brendan Powers undoubtedly made his mother proud, and he has demonstrated the courage it takes to learn and grow and stay connected amidst major loss. We can now only imagine how the life and art of South Boston’s Brendan Powers will take form. 

     (The author can be reached at carolhardt@comcast.net)



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South Boston artist Brendan Powers