Featured on this month’s cover are the directors – Baty Landis, executive director; Rondell Crier, creative director; and Kay Kerrigan and Amanda Rivera, co-chairwomen – of a unique organization that promotes artistic expression and positive development among budding New Orleans artists. Its jubilant acronym – YA/YA – stands for “Young Aspirations/Young Artists,” and was founded in the late 1980s by local female artist Jana Napoli.

This “one-time experiment” has since blossomed into a full-fledged local institution that provides young people with artistic experience and encouragement, as well as offering them opportunities to promote and sell their work. YA/YA follows the classic guild system: as members complete tasks and mature artistically, they move through each of the guild’s steps, gaining both greater control of their art sales and opportunities to mentor younger artists. Not only does the program present artistic development it also offers the attainment of valuable life skills, such as leadership and business sense. The benefits are in the statistics; participants in YA/YA are more than twice as likely as their peers to become entrepreneurs.

This month, cheer on YA/YA and their efforts at “Just Say YA/YA,” Thursday, July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the IP Building located at the corner of Magazine and Girod streets. If you’re feeling especially philanthropic, or you’re looking for art to make your home perfect, make sure to attend the patron party on Tuesday, July 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the YA/YA Studio, located at 338 Baronne St. At both events original items will be available for purchase and commission. Make your reservation or donation by credit card by calling 529-3306.

Thanks to YA/YA for letting us invade, to Rondell for being so accommodating and to Ned for his assistance.