Amid Scottsdale’s high summer temperatures, Gabby Loeff, 18, is just as feverishly embracing her commissioned artwork as a way to help pay for college tuition.
On the heels of graduating from Chaparral High School with a 4.3 GPA, Loeff starts an exciting new journey to Brandeis University for the fall 2017 semester.
Loeff, who dreams of an art-based career, will major in both arts and business, with a minor in Spanish. Not only will she pursue an undergraduate degree in fine arts, but she has also been accepted into the university’s five-year MA/BA program, enabling her to complete a Master of Arts in international economics and finance.
“As a future arts major, I am excited to experiment with new mediums while continuing to enhance my skills in drawing and design,” she said. “Learning new skill sets will allow me to experiment with my creative process and self-expression.”
Her art portfolio and involvement in high school art programs — not to mention a summer at the San Francisco Art Institute PreCollege program — helped earn her a $1,000 scholarship from the Scottsdale Artists League (SAL).
SAL awards scholarships annually from its signature show and sale in April at the Desert Botanical Garden. The commission from the sales of members’ artwork funds the scholarship, which is awarded to a Scottsdale high school senior who has been accepted by an accredited art school or university.
“Gabby blew us away,” noted Linda Phillips, head of SAL’s scholarship
Phillips pointed out that Loeff’s artwork is varied in media and shows great creativity and technical proficiency.
“Her personal statement and the goals she has set for herself are mature and far-reaching, and her letters of recommendation are absolutely glowing,” Phillips adds.
Loeff credits her creative side and strong work ethic to her mother, an industrial designer, and her father, an engineer and inventor.
Growing up in a Reform Jewish family (her sister, Hannah, graduated from Brandeis in 2014), Loeff is very proud of her Jewish heritage and her journey as a young Jewish woman.
Loeff’s parents, Thomas and Sharon, recalled that stories told during the Jewish holidays always resonated with their daughter.
“During High Holy days it might have been Elie Wiesel or Stefan Zweig. During Passover, a story or spoken word anecdote by Nathan Englander, or just the story of the Exodus itself,” Thomas said.
Her determination to pursue her artistic career through hard work and life’s ups and downs — including her personal
experiences of anti-Semitism — has opened the doors she’s now entering.
“Being able to
create art and continue my journey through expression has been endlessly gratifying and has stood as a significant pillar in my life,” Loeff said. “I consider myself immeasurably fortunate to have discovered my love for art at an early age.”
Her most recent series of artwork is appropriately titled “Portals.”
“It’s a doorway into a new place,” she explained. “It’s a window into another world, traveling through unconventional means through portals.”
Loeff praises her art teacher, Marcy Warner, at Chaparral for being a major influence. Warner says during the three years she had Loeff as a student, she saw her develop a unique style — very sophisticated for a young artist.
“Gabby is a very talented and prolific artist,” Warner said. “She has the ability to think for herself and demonstrates the confidence to make her own decisions.” JN
Kathy Shayna Shocket is a freelance reporter and writer based in Phoenix.