Community

Close to goal, Falcon Grad Night raffles painting

Lydia Johnson holds her painting with her friend, coworker and patron Lori Chiarizio. Johnson created the piece after capturing a moment at the beach at Double Bluff. Chiarizio is raffling the painting for the 2012 Grad Night party for South Whidbey High School seniors.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Lydia Johnson holds her painting with her friend, coworker and patron Lori Chiarizio. Johnson created the piece after capturing a moment at the beach at Double Bluff. Chiarizio is raffling the painting for the 2012 Grad Night party for South Whidbey High School seniors.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Almost two years passed before Lydia Johnson painted again.

She found a reason in helping fundraise for the 2012 Grad Night. Johnson, a para-educator at South Whidbey Elementary School, got her brushes out to help Lori Chiarizio, her friend and co-worker who is also the fundraising chair for the Grad Night party.

“You can’t say no to Lori,” Johnson said.

The 2012 Grad Night parents are working to lower the cost of the all-day excursion. Last year, the tickets cost $200 for the secret adventures. For the class of 2012, Chiarizio and co-chairwomen Lisa Wood and Robin Koeller want to cut the cost to $85, and they are close to their fundraising goal.

They have sold Papa John’s pizza coupons, sold items at high school sports games and ran a dunk tank at the Island County Fair.

Now, they have turned to the other side of South Whidbey, the artistic community. People hoping to win Johnson’s painting can buy $1 raffle tickets at sporting events at South Whidbey High School and can also email Chiarizio at jefflori@whidbey.com. The drawing will be Monday, Dec. 19.

To date, 50 raffle tickets have been sold, and Chiarizio only began soliciting the painting and raffle on Facebook on Dec. 9.

“People were asking me if I can rig it,” Chiarizio said with a laugh.

Johnson wanted to paint something that spoke to South Enders. The ferry has been done too many times. Boy and Dog Park, too. She wanted to have a different angle, then she found her edge, or rather her cliff — Double Bluff. The attention Johnson has received from her painting has been a bit of a shock to the recreational artist.

“I’m not used to that,” Johnson said. “I haven’t really advertised my stuff before. It’s always been private. To have my art sitting like that out there, it seems so strange.”

Her friend and supporter thinks Johnson sells herself short.

“I don’t think she realizes how good she is,” Chiarizio said.

The acrylic-on-canvas painting shows a clear day from the beach, looking toward the familiar bluff. Dogs are playing near the waves, while the presumed owners trail in the background.

“To me, it’s a dog beach,” Johnson said. “I wanted to show dogs having fun on the beach.”

Johnson’s choice of location was perfect to Chiarizio. From people walking their dogs there to visiting with their kids and family, South Whidbey knows Double Bluff.

“Everybody has a story of Double Bluff,” Chiarizio said. “It’s different, but it speaks to people.”

Johnson will help the 2012 South Whidbey graduates have a low-cost, high-value day. The details won’t be disclosed because it’s a tradition to surprise the graduates with the excursion the day after graduation, Sunday, June 10. They get on a bus and go along for the ride.

Some of the students, such as Chiarizio’s daughter Tessa, were in Johnson’s preschool class at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods.

“A lot of them I wouldn’t recognize if I saw them,” Johnson said.

Johnson paints as a hobby, and has not shown her works in galleries. Typically she paints portraits, specifically faces, she said, because of their expressiveness. Capturing a place, however, was rewarding for her.

“Landscaping was a nice change,” Johnson said.

The grad night committee’s goal is to raise $5,000, and they are close to the target. The money will significantly lower the cost for the seniors and allows the committee to offer a handful of scholarships.

“We’re almost there,” Chiarizio said.

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