OSU gymnast drawing praise for her artistic talents

By KEVIN HAMPTON

Mid-Valley Sports

Chrissy Lamun had a different gift idea when she found out that the Oregon State gymnasts were going to have a secret Santa exchange for Christmas.

Lamun, a freshman, did not make a trip to the mall or any of the local retailers to pick up a knickknack.

She had heard that Elizabeth Jillson loved fairies, and she knew exactly what to do. Lamun sat down and used her talent as an artist to create a mythical creature for Elizabeth.

"I put it in a big frame and I cut it out of this foam paper, so it was a new thing to work with for me and it turned out really neat," Lamun said. "She almost started crying, she was like, 'Oh, it's beautiful.' "

Jillson's reaction wasn't unusual. Lamun has had some of her art displayed in galleries and casinos throughout her home state of Nevada.

Sandy and Robert Lamun discovered their daughter's artistic abilities when she was in grade school, about the same time she became interested in gymnastics.

The Lamuns went to Lake Tahoe for a gymnastics camp and watched Chrissy as she made sand sculptures with some of the campers.

Chrissy shaped dinosaurs and mermaids out of the wet globs of sand.

"They were incredible," Sandy Lamun said. "We started doing sand sculpture contests after that and we always told her she couldn't join, but she could give the other kids ideas."

When the Disney animated film "The Little Mermaid" was released, Chrissy Lamun started sketching characters from the movie, particularly the mermaid Ariel.

"I asked my mom to keep the refrigerator box and I drew a life-size Ariel (on it)," Lamun said. "She just noticed then that I had a good eye for art, because it actually looked like it."

Lamun, who won her first art contest as a first-grader, enrolled in a night art class where she learned how to develop her drawing skills along with adults and some children.

She started her gymnastics career when members of the Flips USA gymnastics club visited her preschool.

"I just came home and I told my mom, I want to do what they do. And then I saw it on the TV, and I was like, I want to do that," Lamun said. "And my mom said I had to wait a couple months until school started again, something like that, and she didn't think a little preschooler would remember two months later. And as soon as it was two months later and it was the first day of school, I was like, 'Mom, I want to do gymnastics now.' "

Lamun joined Flips in the fourth grade and won Level 8 Regionals in her second year there and Level 9 the next. She won the 2000 Junior Olympic Level 10 national championship on beam and finished second on floor in the 2002 Junior Olympics.

Gymnastics success did not derail Lamun's love for art, however. Sandy Lamun said her daughter went through a phase when she would draw whales and dolphins, but added that Chrissy became quite proficient drawing people.

She said her favorite work by Chrissy was an outdoor setting done in chalk.

"It had some fall colors in it with leaves and rocks," Sandy Lamun said.

When she was a junior at McQueen High in Reno, Chrissy Lamun took an advanced placement art class in which she was required to submit a portfolio including 24 pieces of art for college credit.

Lamun's portfolio ran the gamut of mediums, from pencil sketches to ink and pastel work to acrylic and watercolor painting. She also sculpted using clay and plaster.

"So I pretty much did everything that I could get my hands on, just because I wanted to learn how to use different things," she said.

One of Lamun's acrylic paintings wound up hanging in a Reno art museum, and she created a poster, which was one of the winners of Nevada's Project 21 contest. The idea of the contest was to send a message to help prevent underage gambling.

Lamun's poster had two big No. 4 cards matched with handcuffs and the phrase, 'You're not going to win with either pair.' She used little playing cards to decorate the outside edge.

"It was real simple, but it got the point across. They liked it," said Lamun, w

ho received a $1,000 scholarship for the poster. "They put them up in casinos, both in (Las) Vegas and Reno, just like posters. (They were aimed at) kids walking in thinking that they can get away with slipping (in) a few quarters."

Although Lamun enjoys doodling cartoon characters in class, she has no plans to make a career of her artistic talents. In fact, she hasn't been able to take an art class at OSU.

"I definitely want to work on stuff on the sides and if people want to buy it, that'd be cool, or if people want to hang it up in their galleries, that'd be neat," she said. "I've actually had a lot of people ask for my art, really close friends, and so I've given them some and they get it all professionally framed and they hang them up in their house. That's been pretty neat."

Meanwhile, Lamun will keep herself busy preparing for a career as an orthodontist.

She has been learning how to extract and drill on teeth in her pre-dental class and was shown the ropes while shadowing two dentists in Reno.

She said she enjoys making people smile and wants everybody to be comfortable with smiling.

"Ever since I was little, I've loved teeth," she said. "I used to make my own retainers and my own braces and my mom would get mad at me because I'd use paper clips and she'd go, 'Take that out of your mouth.' "

The Chrissy Lamun file

• WHAT: Freshman gymnast at Oregon State

• AGE: 19

• HOMETOWN: Reno, Nev.

• GYM: Flips USA in Sparks, Nev.

• FAMILY: Daughter of Sandy and Robert Lamun; older brother Erick

• EDUCATION: Graduated from McQueen High School in Reno with a 3.98 GPA

• ETC.: Parents have been involved in foster care since Lamun was in fourth grade … Lamun designed T-shirts for the Flips Invitational … Lamun was a teammate of UCLA's Malia Jones at Flips USA and was inspired to become a college gymnast by Jones.

• QUOTE: "As a little kid I was a little bit of a spaz. I've always had the flexibility, so that was always been something kind of special, like a trademark of mine."

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