Olga Gasanova had two paintings place in the Top 25 this year, and both attracted top bids at the Evening of Excellence on Friday night. The North Port High junior was amazed when “Contemplation,” her first piece to reach the auction block, went for $4,750. Her second painting, “An Artist’s Soul,” ended the night’s action with a $3,800 closing bid.
Auctioneer Jimmy Dean announced that the first painting will be donated back to Gasanova’s school, to be displayed in the student artist’s honor. The purchaser of her second painting is presenting it as a gift to the Women’s Resource Center.
The Education Foundation’s annual Evening of Excellence grossed over $280,000 in cash and in-kind gifts, including a live auction total of $50,000. Education Foundation executive director Susan Scott and board chair Cheryl Gordon thanked the 405 guests in attendance for supporting the program over the past 19 years.
Taylor Collins and Alix Morin, event co-chairs, introduced this year’s 22 award-winning high school artists. The event theme was An Evening In Paris, inspired by a popular student piece from last year’s event.
Evening of Excellence is the premier arts competition for area high school artists, a fixture on the social calendar, and the signature fundraiser for the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. Proceeds benefit the 41,200 students in the public schools through the group’s initiatives, grants, scholarships, and other programs.
The evening combines an elegant dinner with a lively auction that puts the Top 25 student art works up for sale to the highest bidder. The program has raised more than $2.6 million for schools, students and teachers since 1996.
Awards of $500 to $2,000 were presented to each of the Top 25 students, who represented every public high school in Sarasota County. In addition, more than $40,000 in monetary and in-kind donations was awarded to the student artists and high school art departments this year. Sarasota High’s André Johnson landed the Omar Y. Cooper Artistic Gold Achievement Award, which carries a $2,000 cash scholarship and a year-long paid mentorship with an arts professional.
Dr. Larry Thompson presented two promising students, Jakeila Newsome and Laura Hand, $5,300 scholarships to attend a four-week pre-college program at Ringling College of Art and Design.
Attached photographs are provided courtesy of Prestige Portraits by Lifetouch. High resolution photos are available. Identification:
1. North Port High’s Olga Gasanova with her paintings “An Artist’s Soul” (left) and “Contemplation” at Evening of Excellence on February 28. The 11th grader won the Meg Mahoney and Mike Connelly Art Award.
2. 2014 Evening of Excellence event chairs Taylor Collins and Alix Morin.
3. Sarasota High’s Ashlee Baker with her sculpture, “Dark Rain,” winner of the Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick Best of Show Award.
4. Riverview High’s Sabino Lops with his mixed media piece, “Guacamaya,” winner of the Best in School Sherry & Tom Koski Merit Award.
5. Venice High’s Yuwen Liu with “Who am I?” Her mixed media piece won the Best in School Dr. Ken & Chris Pfahler Merit Award.
6. Education Foundation board chair Cheryl Gordon and executive director Susan Scott.
7. Guests at the Florida Blue sponsor table get into the spirit of An Evening in Paris, led by Heather and Robin MacDonald (center).
8. Education Foundation board member Mike Bryant bids.
9. Amy Heroux makes the winning bid for “Who am I?”
10. Jason, Jonathan and Jon Swift at the art auction preview.
Many thanks for your interest!