The winners were selected by Dawn Whitelaw, an honored painter, instructor and judge. Whitelaw, who has judged national and international art competitions, found the show small but incredibly diverse.
“There’s a huge variety of mediums and styles,” she told reception attendees after the winners were announced. “That tells me how strong the arts are in this region and how diverse they are.”
Of the eight award winners, four received the “Award of Excellence” and a $50 cash prize. These winners were Jennifer Hilton’s “Plant Forms #1,” Jerry Sanders’ “Too Old to Be of Much Use,” Carol McCreary’s “Birder” and Dale McKinney’s “Night Moves.” The $100 “Celebrate Kingsport” award, for the piece that best captures the city’s essence, was given to Steven Reeves for his portrait “Look at Me.” Judith Fitzgerald won the $200 third-place prize for her watercolor “Red Hair,” and Patti Lawrence won the $300 second-place award for her “Fiddle V.” The “Best in Show” award, which includes a $400 prize, was given to Michelle O’Patick-Ollis for her mixed-media sketch and painting “Mom has Parkinson’s.” Whitelaw chose the winning pieces based on the artists’ mastery of technique, creativity and other qualities.
The winning pieces show a variety of styles, mediums, and techniques that impressed Whitelaw. “Mom has Parkinson’s,” for example, is a sepia-toned painting that almost seems to move on the canvas. The painting includes traditional mediums such as graphite, but its colors come from the artist’s use of coffee.
Unlike many of the competitions under Whitelaw’s belt, the Fun Fest Art Show is not pre-judged. In pre-judged shows, many submitted pieces are eliminated during a preliminary judging and are not displayed as part of the show. In the spirit of Fun Fest, the Kingsport Art Guild’s show displays and judges all submitted pieces. This resulted in a lively mix of vastly different perspectives.
“There are so many unique, individual voices here,” Whitelaw told the Times News before the award announcements.
Whitelaw spent almost three hours evaluating the show’s paintings, stitchings, drawings and carvings. “I know that I gave every piece a really good look,” she said, sitting at one of the gallery’s benches and admiring a wall of vastly different paintings. “I walked around the room afterwards and looked at them … and I felt good about my choices.”
The Fun Fest Art Show is located on the second floor of the Renaissance Arts Center. The gallery will be open until July 30, and its hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.