• Dr. Herpy

Bi-county art show highlights young local talent

Published in The News-Herald
February 20, 2016
Jonathan Tressler

What do you get when you combine two counties worth of promising junior and senior high school artists, more than 400 of their works and a venerable venue on a sunny Saturday in February?

Applause, emotion, achievement and awards are what you get and that’s what the Annual Lake County & Geauga County Juried Junior & Senior High School Art Show at Lakeland Community College was all about Feb. 20 at the school’s main campus in Kirtland.

The competition brings together the best young artists in a two-county radius.

“It’s a very well-run machine,” said Mary Urbas, Lakeland’s Gallery Director for the past 11 years, adding that the crew who puts the show together really does have it together.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty at times. I mean, you wany to talk about how the devil is in the details? There’s so much minutiae to address at times. It’s quite an undertaking.”

And by calling the show “quite an undertaking,” Urbas wasn’t overstating anything, considering officials pored over some 700-plus works of art from students hailing from over a dozen different schools throughout Lake and Geauga counties to determine the 428 pieces which made it into the show.

Urbas said it’s a show where many young artists get their professional start.

“Because this is a juried show, they can add this to their exposition resumes, which are different from their working resumes,” she said. “It’s a way for them to gain that different type of validation of their work that’s really an important component to it.”

One young Geauga County artist learned just how important a show like this can be when she got not one, but two, pieces of potentially career-making news at the event.

Not only did Kenston High School student Hannah Johnson win a $300 talent grant from Lakeland and two blue ribbons from her school, the senior from Bainbridge Township also learned she won the first-ever Cleveland Institute of Art Tuition Scholarship and got accepted to the school’s illustration program, to boot.

“I can’t believe it,” she said following the awards presentation. “It’s one of the schools I really, really want to go to, too, so I just feel so ecstatic.”

Hannah said winning the $2,500 in tuition from CIA for her piece entitled On the Fence was thrilling and she was amped enough about that when she walked up onto the stage inside Lakeland’s Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center to accept the award.

But something CIA presenter Pita Brooks told her when she approached the podium made the award, and the day, even more amazing than she’d ever hoped.

“When I went up there to get the award, she told me I’d been accepted there, as well,” Hannah said.

She said all the good news she got made her feel “like a princess.”

“I was shaking and everything. I just didn’t expect that,” she said. “It was like being Cinderella or something.”

At the podium with Brooks to present Hannah with her award was Andie Quinn, Hannah’s Kenston High School art teacher while she worked on her winning entry.

Quinn said the CIA award, and the school’s acceptance, couldn’t have gone to a more deserving student.

“Hannah always thinks outside of the box,” she said. “She works very hard at problem solving and just doesn’t give up. But aside from that, she’s just one of the nicest, most well-rounded individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with and get to know.”

The nonprofit Lake and Geauga Counties Secondary Art Awards Committee was re-established in 2015, according to the show’s organizers, who state their mission is to encourage and stimulate interest in art education in public and private schools throughout Lake and Geauga counties.

The program is open to students in grades six through 12 and judges include art professors, art school admissions counselors, area artists and/or former art educators who donate their time.

Visit The News-Herald to see their photo of Hannah Johnson receiving her $2,500 award!