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    Final awards judges: Michael W. Cothren, Vince Fazio, and Victoria Oldham announce the Grand prize winners of the Sedona Art Prize Painting Competition.
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    CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT FINAL AWARDS JUDGES.

    First Prize: Blowing Smoke by Nicole Moné (Portrait of Aaron Shikler)

    — Winner of $5,000.00

    Blowing Smoke (Portrait of Aaron Shikler)

    Judges' Comment: Blowing smoke is a masterful painting on many levels. Painted with oil on linen, it depicts the late, renowned portrait artist, Aaron Shikler, famous for painting the official White House portrait of President John F. Kennedy, among others. Blowing Smoke’s striking composition is immediately dramatic and purposeful, from the effect of its surprisingly wide gamut of cascading light-to-dark color values to its clever, supporting latticework of subtly-defined geometric lines surrounding the subject’s organic forms. As a portrait, this work far surpasses the usual rendering of a likeness--its technical proficiency and excellence is practically assumed as the oil painting medium transcends to reveal a living, breathing man and his personal story. References to Mr. Shikler’s distinctive occupation include jars of brushes and a fine art print receding into the background. His head and shoulders seem enveloped in a halo of cool morning sunlight, with the sensation that illumination of the mind flows from such beautifully crafted imagery--one can imagine he is carefully considering what he is about to say. With the lighting of his pipe, artist Nicole Monè captures that unmistakable yet fleeting moment of ignition, with smoke and fire naturally rising from the pipe, a palpable moment in time. We find ourselves transported and suddenly engaged in conversation with a fascinating and accomplished celebrity artist who is about to answer our next burning question!


    Second Prize: Edward Inman Sr by Suzie Baker — Winner of $1,000.00

    Edward Inman Senior

    Judges' Comment: Upon learning that this painting by Suzie Baker was created “plein air” style — in a live setting but INDOORS—we were stunned and totally captivated! Suzie describes how a stormy day led her to go inside the landmark Atlanta building where her group had planned to paint outside.

    Its painterly style creates an almost-patchwork impression, composed of lush, free brushstrokes; but this is the only aspect of this painting that appears spontaneous. Rather, it has the look of a carefully planned studio work, with a terrific, highly original composition channelling light against dark areas which serve to draw the eye throughout the canvas. The depiction of the “light-suffused” areas, as Suzie describes them, is also well defined, with the clear interplay between natural light and artificial light. The lavish accoutrements of this historical space are also evident with just a few strokes: the velvet chair coverings, the leather seating, the fine hardwood furniture, drapery and floor coverings. There is even a sense of personality and stature conveyed in figure. Beyond the technical excellence of this unusual plein air painting, there is an ongoing story depicted: Mr. Inman is immersed in a task of some kind: Reading? Studying? What is he thinking? We wonder!


    Third Prize: Spaghetti Junction by Alan Wylie — Winner of $750.00

    Spaghetti Junction

    Judges' Comment: It’s hard to top what professional artist Charlie Hunter said about Spaghetti Junction when he selected it as the Best in Show for December: “Lights, darks, abstract shapes. Edges, values, composition. Have you ever tried to do one of these virtually flat-plane paintings? Of course you have. You know how hard this is. Join me in genuflecting before this wonder.”

    Although this painting is obviously representational, it easily works in the abstract due to its masterful organization of bold geometric lines and planes throughout an otherwise highly chaotic scene. Objects treated as shapes in space pop or recede within a relatively short depth of field. Wide-ranging tonal values override color dominance; yet hues range from pale to vivid within the relatively monochromatic color field. The strong central column is bisected at the perpendicular and a broken streetlamp hangs above, as if to depict a sort of symbolic crucifix in the most unexpected place.


    Judges' Honorable Mentions:

    Ocean Lights by Leslie Sealy

    Ocean LIghts

    Judges' Comment: This breathtaking painting teeters on the border between abstraction and representation. Perfectly balanced between two seemingly antithetical artistic approaches, it manages to be a successful example of each. The painter used a creative variety of tools to apply the rich spectrum of warm and cool greys that give the picture an unexpectedly coloristic effect.  The grid-like organization of horizontals—enhanced by the corrugations of the cardboard—gives the vista a sense of stability and calm, while the perpendicular vertical slashes and the irregular waves in the foreground brings it to life. A salty seascape, and a strong and meditative abstraction. The artist characterized her painting as “experimental.” We found this experiment a stunning success.

    On the Hill California by Mason Mansung Kang

    On the Hill, California

    Judges' Comment: This painting pulls you into it with an incredible perspective on a rutted road receding into the distance on what feels like the crest of broad hill. The ‘eye candy’ rain puddles in the ruts of the road in the foreground are so compelling that our eyes follow them into the distance…and then further…and even further. Meanwhile we are brought back again and again to the delights in the foreground. This painting works so well partly by using slightly differing realistic/impressionistic treatments in various areas giving it a unique kind of stylistic contrast to play with. There is nearly a Van Gogh treatment to a large and singular bush in foreground left and that is surrounded by patch of flowers and grass that could have been done by Renoir on one of his best days. The brush work in this painting is fabulous and subtle with powerful compositional elements played against each other.

    Gold Coins by Christine Debrosky

    Gold Coins

    Judges' Comment: If one obvious purpose of art is to simply capture beauty on canvas, Gold Coins roundly succeeds. It is an exceptionally stunning painting! As judge Kathryn Stats so aptly commented:

    “The weaving of warm and cool to form this sumptuous bit of sparkle is intriguing. The turquoise and violet-colored aspen trunks in shadow create an almost neon effect when complementing the bright and warm foliage, creating a surprising feast for the eye.”

    Elements of the composition, specifically the softly shifting color values and temperatures provide an inviting path into the woods; one feels compelled to explore the interior of a landscape that offers much more than surface appeal.  The sunlit field in the distance beckons us and seems to jump to the picture plane to grab us. The sense of a gently sloping upward plane reveals the possibility of the awaiting vista, just beyond.

     

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