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Young artists show their talents at the Arts Center

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By Ada Lang

Cats with giant talons, Egyptian Sarcophagus, ceremonial masks and self portraits were just a few of the wide varieties of arts on display at the Arts Center. It wasn't just the imagination of the artists that wowed the 30 or so people came appreciate the work, it was the age of the artists - all students of Cedar Key School.

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Saturday afternoon, parents and art aficionados came together to at a reception that was meant to showcase the many artist talents of the school's students. But sadly, it was also a time to say good by to the remarkable teacher whose influence is all over their work.

Debbie Manansala is leaving after teaching art for four years in Cedar Key. Her position was funded by the Cedar Key Community Redevelopment Agency, however due to declining revenues, the CRA board had to discontinue funding Ms. Manansala's position at the end of this school year.

Chiefland Elementary School is lucky enough to be acquiring Ms. Debbie (as her students call her), however she plans to remain active in the summer arts programs in Cedar Key and lives just off the island - so she will have no excuse to not stay involved.

Teachers like Ms. Debbie not only "work to bring out the budding artist in children who already enjoy art, but more importantly, she brings out the talent in kids who had never been exposed to art and had no idea they even had any talent," said Commissioner Sue Colson after the event.

An accomplished artist in her own right, Manansala has a vivid imagination that she puts to work in the lightfilled studio at her home - over looking the Cedar Key scrub. There, she creates painted silk works, as well as paintings and banners. Art books and supplies are scattered over her large work tables and a variety of pieces are in different stages of completion.

Colson presented Manansala the prestigious golden clam pendant on behalf of the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association for her the giant American flag made out of clam shells, as well as, the beautifully painted garbage cans used and auctioned off at ClamAmerica festivals. Mayor Pat O'Neal also presented Manansala with a certificate of appreciation from the city. The student art work will be on display upstairs at the Cedar Key Arts Center until the end of June and the public is invited to tour the gallery.