Twenty-two students from seven Sarasota County high schools captured top honors before a standing-room only crowd Wednesday night. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County launched the 19th Evening of Excellence program by announcing Best of Show and Best of School winners for its annual Juried Art Show competition.
Ashlee Baker, a senior at Sarasota High, won Best of Show for her sculpture, Dark Rain. Six other Best of School winners include Azul Diaz, Pine View; Yuwen Liu, Venice High; Sabino Lops, Riverview High; Rachel Ross, Booker High; Alina Timshina, North Port High; and Ginger Whitely, Suncoast Polytech. Three students placed two pieces in the Top 25: North Port’s Hayley Denham and Olga Gasanova, and Sarasota High’s Yalicia Miller.
[Please see “2014 EVEX STUDENT AWARD WINNERS” list, attached.]
Susan Scott and Cheryl Gordon, the Education Foundation’s executive director and board chairman, welcomed the audience of over 200 to the reception. Steve Cantees, Executive Director of Sarasota County High Schools, congratulated the participants and thanked their art teachers for dedicating many extra hours to help students with their submissions. Ringling College’s admissions director James Dean presented the Heart of Art Awards, including free supplies and tuition for summer art classes, to eight promising young artists selected by their high school art teachers.
Taylor T. Collins and Alix Morin, 2014 Evening of Excellence co-chairs, announced the winning students. A panel of five arts professionals used a blind-scoring process to select the top twenty-five works out of 347 entries submitted by students from every Sarasota County public high school. The 2014 Juried Art Show panel of judges includes artist and New College instructor Jean Blackburn, artist and interior designer Katie Cassidy, James H. Dean and Dr. Christopher Wilson from Ringling College of Art and Design, and April Irwin, digital design teacher at Sarasota County Technical Institute.
All entries were on view from January 11-14 in a free public exhibition at Ringling College of Art and Design, the scene of last night’s announcements. During the four days of the art show, visitors were invited to vote for their favorite work to win the Marie B. Ritter People’s Choice Award. Sarasota High’s Brittany Probus received the most votes and the $250 prize for her electronic media piece entitled Transient.
The student artists are donating all twenty-five of their winning pieces – paintings, photographs, mixed media, sculpture and more – to the Education Foundation. Both the students and their art will be photographed by Gene Pollux of Pollux Photography and Digital Imaging. Then each piece will be professionally framed by local galleries donating materials and services.
Finally, the students will be honored at the Evening of Excellence gala dinner and auction on the last Friday in February, when they will see their work auctioned off to the highest bidder. Last year’s event grossed over $229,000, including a live auction total of $28,650. Proceeds benefit the 41,200 students enrolled in Sarasota County’s public schools through the work of the Education Foundation.
The twenty-two students receive cash awards from $500 to $2,000 as well as other gifts, connections, and recognition for their talent and generosity. More than $35,000 in prizes, scholarships and art department grants will be presented during this year’s Evening of Excellence activities.
Since 1996, Evening of Excellence has grown to become both the premier arts competition for area high school students and a fixture on the social calendar. This year’s theme is An Evening in Paris, taking inspiration from the student whose award-winning work from last year’s event was adapted for the gala invitation. Sponsorships are available starting at $1,000. Individual tickets are $200, $250 for patrons. The date for this year’s dinner and auction is Friday, February 28. Guests arrive for cocktail hour at 6:00 p.m. at Michael’s On East, when they can meet the students and view the artwork before bidding. To request an invitation, call the Education Foundation at 941-927-0965 or visit www.EdFoundation.net.
The 2014 Title Sponsor is Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. As of January 10, Masterpiece Sponsors are Bank of America, Dart Foundation, and Herald-Tribune Media Group. Maestro Sponsor is Ringling College of Art and Design. Connoisseur Sponsors include Advanced Network & Services, Fawley Bryant Architects, Jon F. Swift, Inc. and Swift Family Foundation, McIntyre Elwell & Strammer General Contractors, Inc., Tandem Construction, and Willis Smith Construction.
Virtuoso Sponsors are Norton Hammersley Lopez & Skokos, P.A., SCENE Magazine, and Williams Parker. Artiste Sponsors include Friends of the Education Foundation, Florida Power & Light, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Harvard Jolly Architecture, Interior Design Society/Sarasota Chapter, Internet Essentials by Comcast, LexJet Corporation, Matthews Eastmoore, and Stantec. Invitation Sponsor is IDS Interior Design Society/Sarasota Chapter.