The walls of McLean Community Center blazed with color Sunday as the second annual Youth Art Show opened with a reception for the artists and their parents, teachers and friends.

Pat Archer, deputy director for the center, said more than 400 youngsters from 14 area schools are represented in the exhibit, which runs through March 28.

"We want to give them an opportunity to show their art and gain recognition in the community," she explained. "That's why we do it, so the community can see what the kids are doing."

Barbara Phillips, chairman of the center's governing board, agreed. "It's important for the young people to know that their work is appreciated."

Archer added that "Gov. Robb established March as Youth Art Month in Virginia and it's also being recognized nationwide. All of us are trying to coordinate efforts to show youth art."

Those who turned out for the show, which includes ceramics, photos, drawings and paintings, fiber work, collages and prints, included John F. Herrity (R-Fairfax), chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Nancy Falck (R-McLean).

Mary Beth Gelven, 11, a student at Haycock Elementary, proudly showed her paper collage to her parents, Maggie and Bill, her brother Matt, 17, a senior at McLean High School, and her sister Kathleen, 14, who attends Longfellow Intermediate.

"We're new to the area," Maggie Gelven said. "We moved here about six months ago from the Philadelphia area, and we just love it.

"My daughter's a ballet dancer and my son is in drama--and this one is the artist," she said, hugging Mary Beth. "Our family likes the arts."

Mary Beth then led David Restrepo, 14, of Cooper Intermediate, over to look at her picture.

Mary Young, an art teacher at McLean High School, and her assistant, Leah Powell, singled out works by their students for special attention. "We're prejudiced," Young said with a laugh, and congratulated McLean artists Ann Kim, a senior, and Janet Gale, a freshman at the school.

"You may be but I'm not," declared Beverly Heinle, art curriculum specialist for Fairfax County Schools. "I think it's a very impressive show."

The exhibit, sponsored jointly by the community center and the county schools, includes works from 10 elementary schools, Cooper and Longfellow intermediate schools and McLean and Langley high schools.

It is open to the public, free of charge.