Jenna Kunze
Olen Stickler holds his underwater monster, created by preschool teacher and artist Betsy Shiner. Shiner hold’s Olen’s prototype. She said she added the sea urchins and a kelp forest behind Olen’s monster so it could be extra camouflaged.

Haines artists last week brought to life the monsters lurking in the imaginations of Chilkat Valley preschoolers.

To fundraise for the preschool, board president Kathryn Lee matched each preschooler with a local artist to bring each child’s imagined monster to life-then auctioned off the pieces at First Friday.

Sixteen monsters were transformed into watercolors, sculptures, tiles, stained glass, piggy banks, string puppets and stuffed animals, earning the preschool $1,100.

“They met with the artists, and the artists had questions themselves about the monsters,” lead teacher Betsy Shiner said. “Some children had really unique ideas about where the monsters lived and what they ate.”

Hunter Wishtar, who designed a creature painted by Melina Shields, said his monster ate gasoline.

Shiner painted the highest grossing monster, at $150, for Olen Stickler, who imagined an underwater beast with a spikey head and seaweed legs that “walks upside down,” Stickler said. Stickler’s mother was victorious in a bidding war for the art.

Oryn Stanford, 3, worked with John Svenson to design “Rose,” a pink-legged, multi-tailed beast that runs fast and dines on children. After conversing with the child, Svenson got to work.

“He kind of narrated this thing to me and then I cross-examined him to make sure it was what he wanted,” Svenson said of his meeting with Stanford. “He put great emphasis on the square teeth, those were very important. And the five triangular pink eyes. Then I asked him if it was a nice monster or a mean monster and he goes, ‘mean.'”

Rose shares a name with Stanford’s sister’s turtle that lives in his room.

“It hasn’t been a big issue until we discovered they were calling the monster Rose,” Oryn’s father, Coleman Stanford, said. “In the middle of the night the other night, he did ask me to turn the light to the turtle tank off. I complied, and he went back to bed.”

Svenson said Rose has been his life for the past month. He chose to create a series of three framed watercolor paintings, detailing Rose chasing a child, Rose grabbing people with one of her many tails, and Rose feeling remorseful over a pile of bones.

Two of the Rose paintings will now live on the Stanfords’ wall-they were the highest bidders.

Lee said the preschool will likely continue the fundraiser in the future, with a different theme. “We’re trying to get more people involved with the youth,” she said.

Contributing artists included: Zane Poirier, Betsy Shiner, Ari Marquardt, Sharon Svenson, John Svenson, Aly Zeiger, Hannah Bochart, Melina Shields, Amelia Nash, Savannah Maidy, Kerry Cohen, Andrea Nelson, Kelly Mitchell and Debi Knight-Kennedy.

Preschool office manager Dacotah Smith said money will fund art and teaching supplies.