When the Student Art Show of Excellence began in 2000 in the gallery space above Kirk’s Art and Photo Shop, three schools (Mount de Chantal, Sherrard and St. Mary Central, Martins Ferry) displayed 90 pieces of art and awarded a few ribbons and money awards to seventh- and eighth-graders.
In 2017, 19 schools participated in the show, displaying 253 pieces of artworks from student artists in grades kindergarten to Grade 8 in both galleries at Artworks Around Town at the Centre Market location.
This year, the 18th annual Student Art Show of Excellence opens First Friday, April 6, at Artworks Around Town in the Centre Market.
For 18 years the Student Art Show of Excellence has awarded prize money, gaudy ribbons and personalized certificates to student artists from ages 5 to 14. Last year, student artists from numerous area schools received $4,000 in monetary awards along with their personalized certificate and gaudy ribbon.
This year, there will be 65 awards for student artists. Two professional artists will judge the show. Along with the individual awards, seven sets of private art lessons will be awarded through a random drawing to students whom their teachers believe have artistic potential. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will pay for six sets of these private art lessons for young artists with potential, while Janet Sheehan, watercolor artist and teacher at Artworks, will donate another set of free lessons as an award.
Of the 65 prizes awarded to student artists, many of the awards recognize artists or patrons of the area. Artworks Around Town awards a Brian Taylor Award, a Liz Neumann Award, a Pat Temple Award and a Marilyn Hughey Phillis Award. Some awards are specific, such as the photography award sponsored by Dick Taylor. Another photography award honors the late Miles McKennan Foreman, the young photographer and grandson of Anne and Noel Foreman. Types of artwork such as watercolor or pottery or meticulous art are rewarded with ribbons and money. Some ribbons/awards are in memory of a family member as an art patron, other awards are specific to a media or subject area.
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Awards include one for pictures of food, creative unique work, repurposing materials, and use of black and white. The award for black-and-white work is sponsored by Jay Stock, internationally famous Martins Ferry photographer, who said the show didn’t have enough awards. Now the Stock family donates three awards. Mary Ann Lokmer of Wheeling Coffee and Spice is the show’s longest private donor. Barry Boyd of the Dairy Queen Group wandered into the show after the opening, asked about the show, gave the curator his information and since then (three years ago) the Dairy Queens in Moundsville and Elm Grove have been very generous to the show.
The Student Art Show of Excellence was created by Judy Minder, curator, to fulfill and reward the idea that young artists are the best artists. Children’s creativity is the best creativity because it is free of preconceived ideas and standards. Children’s visions are clear and imaginative far more than adults. The mission of this show is to encourage young artists to continue their creativity for all of their lives. Each year during the opening of this show, students are reminded that artists can continue with their artwork until they die. Many artists painted, drew, and sculpted for all their lives. We can’t all play tennis until we are in our 90s, but we can continue to create.
The opening for this show is on First Friday, April 6, at the Artworks Around Town Gallery at the Centre Market. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with awards given at 7 p.m. The evening concludes at 8 p.m.