By ANN WRIGHT
The name is a dramatic introduction: BAM!
And attention is what is wanted for teens, for art, for business and for mentorship.
BAM! stands for Business Art Mentorship, a youth program by the nonprofit Trail Lamp Youth Services.
Its first youth-led art show, “Windows to Freedom, Doors to Success,” is set for 4–7 p.m. Friday, July 29, at the Clifton Community Hall, 126 Second St., in Clifton. All are welcome to come to learn about BAM! and to see the artwork students in the program have been creating for months.
And that’s not all. Following an awards ceremony for the students, dancers with Nueva Generación Folklorico will perform from 5–5:30 p.m., a teen fashion show featuring graphic designs created by BAM! students will be from 5:30–6 p.m. and an art sale will go from 6–7 p.m.
Along with meeting many of the 32 youth in BAM!, some of the program’s mentors will be at the event, including Cache Legault, aka DJ Cash Monet, and Veronica Coria with V’s Photography, along with BAM!’s founder and director Tauma Lee.
BAM!’s roots can be found in a youth arts and business program Lee started in 2018 while living in Dallas. It was an nontraditional program for underserved teens that grew out her work with inner-city youth as well as an apprenticeship she had in architectural illustration and painting with an architect, she said.
When Lee moved to the Grand Valley in 2019, she saw a need for a youth arts/business program here and laid the nonprofit groundwork for Trail Lamp and BAM! in 2021.
BAM! is about connecting youth with local arts professionals, from graphic designers to poets, musicians, painters and sculptors, fashion and jewelry designers, photographers and filmmakers.
It’s a program with the goal of empowering teens with art and business and allows them to get to know local professionals, she said.
Through talking with local agencies that work with high-risk youth in the valley, she decided to start in the Clifton area, but quickly found that the free program drew interested teens from across the valley.
Since February, BAM! students have gathered at Clifton Community Hall twice a week or more to create artwork or to learn from mentors.
One of BAM!’s biggest goals is to be a place where “youth are making genuine connections to the community,” Lee said.
Those connections are to people and entities, and “they don’t end when the program ends. They still have that,” she said.
For example, in preparation for the fashion show portion of Friday’s art show, students had to learn not only how to create graphic designs, but how to work with Locker Room, a custom screen print shop in Fruita, to get their designs on apparel or stickers. They had to meet deadlines, manage costs and understand markups. “They’re learning those skills,” Lee said.
In addition, BAM! students have been at area farmers markets and festivals to sell their artwork while sharing booth space with mentors such as Lynnea Tai, the owner of DarcMoon, an international mala and gemstone jewelry business based in Grand Junction.
“They have to communicate with people they don’t know in the community and for all of us that can be scary,” Lee said.
She said it also can be scary for teens to put their artwork out in public view with a price on it, and then to deal with “what if nobody buys it?”
Those events have been learning experiences, Lee said, and have prepared the students for Friday, when they will be offering their work for sale at the art show. There will be a lot of variety, from photography to jewelry to painted skateboards.
There also will be an auction for “Door to Success,” a art piece created by the students. It is a real wood door, and the teens have “put their feelings on freedom and success and what it means to them” in art form on the door, Lee said.
The result is “really colorful, very creative,” she said.
Money raised through the auction will go to fund BAM!, which is free to youth and is in need of funds to keep going and growing.
In addition to funds, BAM! is in need of professionals. “We really need some of the more veteran artists or even veteran professionals, who have a passion or interest in giving back, to get involved with this program,” Lee said. “We need their expertise.”
Mentors as well as board members, who are “passionate about art, community and youth,” are needed, she said.