La Cuesta graduate finds calling through Youth Interactive


June 10, 2019 5:47 AM

Like most teenagers, Jack Miles used his high school years to find his passion.

The recent graduate of La Cuesta Continuation School was told by a friend to check out Youth Interactive, an entrepreneurial arts academy on State Street that aims to provide young adults the keys to self-sufficiency.

Jack Miles, and his mom, Colleen, pose for a photo after Jack received his high school diploma from La Cuesta Continuation High School last week.

Jack Miles, and his mom, Colleen, pose for a photo after Jack received his high school diploma from La Cuesta Continuation High School last week.

He joined the academy a year ago, but said some of the lessons he has picked up in that short time will last for the rest of his life.

“I think joining Youth Interactive is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself,” he told the News-Press. “If I didn’t have art, life would be completely meaningless, to be honest. It’s a kind of language I speak to myself.”

Mr. Miles, 18, said he has a tendency to overanalyze things, but when he is painting he is able to focus and open up his imagination. He compared his passion for art to those who are fond of science or mathematics. While they are different subjects, he finds the process to be similar.

“Not saying I have some formula down or anything, but I can just feel it,” he explained.

Looking back, Mr. Miles said he regrets not joining Youth Interactive sooner.

“It has really sparked a fire in me,” he said. “La Cuesta gave me the extra time to do things outside school, and Youth Interactive gave me the space I needed to make art and find myself as an artist. I never had the supplies or space to paint like I wanted to.

“La Cuesta and Youth Interactive were both small things for me, but together they were all I needed and they really helped me a lot. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

He has always been intrigued by abstract art, mainly because it is so subjective.

“It can mean something to me personally and someone can connect their own personal meaning to it because it’s not figurative,” he explained. “The ability to make art that vaguely reminds someone of something is just fascinating to me.”

His art predominantly consists of colors and shapes rather than “anything recognizable,” he said.

One of his pieces was featured on the label of a custom wine created by Sunstone Winery and served at the Belmond El Encanto hotel.

Mr. Miles was appreciative of the staff at La Cuesta for providing the structure he needed and said he views many of his teachers as friends. He mentioned Paul Cronshaw, who introduced him to meditation that helped him manage his personal life.

A few days removed from graduating at the Courthouse Sunken Garden, the idea of being a former high school student hasn’t quite hit him yet.

“It’s still kind of unreal,” he said.

He will attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall to study art. he wants to learn more about art history and the intricacies of the craft to help him continue to tap into his potential as an artist.

“That’s really all I care about to be honest. I don’t really want to go to college to learn math or English, “he said with a laugh. “I really want to learn about myself as an artist. I still have a lot to learn.”

email: mwhite@newspress.com

KEYT Youth Interactive Art | Youth mural project returns to Santa Barbara waterfront

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Youth Interactive program has unveiled its Postcards from Santa Barbara project along Cabrillo Boulevard.    The 16 panels are now up on the green fencing surrounding the future home of a Parker family hotel project at the corner of Calle Cesar Chavez.

The art murals had previously been up on the walls around State and Mason Streets. They were taken down for the La Entrada hotel and retail project.   Recently a suggestion, followed by a meeting with the Parker family, led to the relocation of the art at the new location.

Members of the Arts Commission, artists involved in the project, Mayor Helene Schneider and the La Boheme Professional dancers took part in an unveiling over the weekend.

The youth art was created with the help of mentors including David Diamant who was on hand for the event. He urged the community to support the non profit art organization because of the creative work he has seen local young people produce, and the benefits to their lives by staying in the program.

The murals depict Santa Barbara scenes including the waterfront, downtown, vintage images like the Flying A studios and a shark.

It's expected to be an area for local residents and tourists to not only view the art, but also pose for memorable pictures.

Nathalie Gensac / Youth Interactive

Towned welcomes very dynamic guest Nathalie Gensac who runs Youth Interactive to the studios beneath the Balboa Building. The Youth Interactive program has an emphasis on social change through the arts and entrepreneurship. "I believe - it’s great to teach art, but a stronger social change happens when you empower youth by teaching them how they can earn income through their passion of the arts. So that instead of doing a dead end job and art on the side, they are given the tool sets to earn a living doing what they love forever - then work is no longer work and life is a positive joy - I think that really encapsulates Youth Interactive." - Nathalie Gensac


October 11 – Youth Interactive 2nd Annual Benefit Concert

Support Youth Interactive at the 2nd Annual Benefit Concert featuring Michael McDonald and Ambrosia. Five-time Grammy Award-winner and Santa Barbara resident McDonald began his career singing back-up vocals with Steely Dan and was a member of The Doobie Brothers. His first solo album, If That’s What It Takes, released in 1982, featured the hit “I Gotta Try.” In 2008, McDonald released his SoulSpeak album and began touring with Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs, known as The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue.