Artists' eye
Gabi Silverman poses with her artwork at the Coastside Land Trust Gallery in Half Moon Bay. Photo courtesy Jo Chamberlain

Nearly 30 works of art of various shapes and sizes hang on the walls of the Coastside Land Trust Gallery. They

were put there on the annual Night of Lights celebration

earlier this month, when

dozens of people came in off Main Street to view a semester’s worth of the best pastels

and acrylics from the Half

Moon Bay High School’s Advanced Placement and Art 3 classes.

The students’ work will remain displayed at the gallery through January.

Some students will submit these pieces to their AP portfolio and college applications. Under the guidance of instructor and art department chair Sean Riordan, the subject material ranged from celebrity portraits to surrealist landscapes. With 29 combined student projects, it’s among the largest showing Riordan has overseen in his 20 years with Half Moon Bay High School.

“I think it’s a sign of some stability and growth in the art department,” Riordan said. “Things are tough in the high school and the school district, numbers-wise. But we’re offering an elective kids want to take.”

This semester, students met once again with San Francisco-based Anthony Rivera, a professional painter who studied in Italy. He’s visited the school for the past few years, and students respect his talent and his teaching approach.

“These are the stars with the best skills and techniques,” Riordan said of his class. “They’re engaged and they just jump into every project and material. It’s a great class to teach.”

This is the third year the Coastside Land Trust has hosted the AP class’s work. Riordan plans to have another show in March at the Coastal Arts League. While the class’s homework load isn’t huge, many of the students continue to produce art in their free time outside the classroom.

“The art classes at the high school,” Riordan explained, “are meant not just for students who are interested in pursuing art as a career or a path of study, but for everybody as a way to look at the world, solve problems, come to understanding and build meaning.

It’s a powerful tool across a lot of different disciplines,” he said.

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