A dynamic force is at work among us in coastal North County’s arts. Cheryl Ehlers, with accomplishments almost too numerous to list, has tirelessly championed artists and art students in our local communities and enriched our lives in the process.
A resident of Carlsbad since 1988, Ehlers serves as assistant land planner for an engineering firm. When not fulfilling land development duties, her energies are intently focused on the arts.
Ehlers is a dedicated example of giving back. After attending countless schools while growing up in Germany, Italy and France, her high school art teacher became a fundamental figure in Ehlers’ life. According to Ehlers, “Ms. Moncla supported me and pushed me to live my heart and create from inside and try anything that my heart desired.” This once-in-a-lifetime teacher worked closely with her protégée throughout high school and helped her secure a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology, where Ehlers earned her Bachelor of Fine Art degree.
Decades later, in honor of the mentor who left an indelible impression, Ehlers formed Stardust Arts, a program through which she shares with North County youth the gifts she received from her teacher long ago.
Stardust Arts received its first grant in 2009 from the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation. Since that time, Ehlers has tirelessly shared the gift of creativity with youth of Oceanside, Encinitas and Carlsbad. As of June 2012, Ehlers has successfully taught more than 61,200 students.
Ehlers believes that art can have a tremendous impact on lives and advises students, “Do not be afraid to explore yourself or be concerned what others think.” She stresses the importance of creating confidence first and talent second, in order that students feel empowered to succeed.
As youth art coordinator for the Encinitas Arts Festival, Ehlers says, “I like to bring art together with people and bring awareness of its value into everyone’s lives; thus my drives to support the community events that bring art awareness to the forefront.” In addition to coordinating the 10Hr Art Gallery in Carlsbad, she also co-sponsors art activities at Carlsbad’s annual Art in the Village event.
The recent president of San Dieguito Art Guild says that her inexhaustible drive to succeed is a trait shared with her extremely accomplished family elders. In making time to create her own artwork, the self-professed scheduling fanatic says, “ I believe you need to be focused on your tasks at hand and remain on target, and actually accomplish them the same day if possible.” With a calendar filled with land development, children’s art classes, and community events, she reserves Sundays for painting. She explains, “I usually complete a project in one day, not stopping until it is done or 95 percent done. Emotions change daily and so would the art piece.”
Ehlers describes her bold, colorful artwork as “art in emotion” and strongly believes that “art without emotion is not art.” She feels that creativity and imagination reside within everyone and should be applied to passions that make them happy. Ehlers asserts, “If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”
Ehlers’ artwork and information on Stardust Arts can be seen at cparrotiseart.com.