Student juried exhibition artwork on display at Vero Beach Museum of Art

VERO BEACH – The Indian River County Student Juried Exhibition continues on display at the Vero Beach Museum of Art through the end of the month after the judging of the juried exhibition.

With 64 entries from Indian River County’s 12 middle and high schools, competition was tough. According to the sole judge, Linda Waugaman, visual arts director at Indian River State College, the final decisions came down to “the nitty-gritty details.”

While drummers drummed in the first Family Drum Circle in front of the museum, the artists gathered with families and friends inside the Leonhardt Auditorium for the awards announcements.

Every year, Indian River County art teachers select their students’ best works to submit.

The exhibition is divided into middle school and high school work, with four categories: painting, drawing/mixed media, photography/digital arts, and three-dimensional.

Two best of show awards, one for middle school and one for high school are also chosen.

Waugaman conducted a blind judging, not knowing the names of the students or their schools.

In a brief awards speech, she said she wished she could have given a blue ribbon to every participant.

“My gosh, it was hard,” she said. “This is an incredible show.”

In a way, the single biggest winner was St. Edward’s Middle School art teacher, Lourdes Alvarez Rogers, whose students won three of the four prizes offered in the middle school category.

Tommy Hammond won second place for his painting, “The Lonely Tree,” an acrylic on canvas of a single tree, an emerald green sky and slate gray ocean.

“I’m always out on the river fishing in a little skiff,” he said. “My favorite time of day is right at sunset.”

First place winner in the painting category was seventh grader, Alexis Paul, with her deceptively simple acrylic, “Sea Turtle.”

In this charming painting, Paul has captured the effortless grace of a sea turtle swimming underwater.

Rogers explained the assignment.

“They were to paint something from nature, they’d find here in Vero, and to pay attention to details. I love it that Alexis used blue highlights above the turtle’s eye.”

Best in show for middle school went to Morgan Benson, an eighth grader and also a student of Rogers.

“Purple Orchid” is a enormous purple orchid with red stamen and pistil on a black background, all painted on a flattened cardboard box.

“My whole family loves orchids,” said Benson. “When Mrs. Rogers told us we were doing flowers, I looked up orchids and picked this picture.”

Rogers said that the students had spent some time studying the gigantic close ups of plants painted by Georgia O’Keeffe, and one goal of the assignment was to capture that “oversized quality.”

The St. Edward’s upper school students of Anne Whitney won some prizes too.

Third place in painting went to Austin Machado, a senior, for his monochromatic “Voltage,” which shows three cavorting black rabbits.

“I like to do a lot of fast paintings where I just throw some paint at the canvas,” said Machado. “This painting was done in two to three hours, working with black and white tones.”

Second place in photography went to another St. Edward’s senior, Jamari Williams.

Here is an explosion of color – a close up of a girl’s face painted yellow and red with a bit of pink, and curlicues of silver hair.

The work was part of an independent study, an option for seniors, by invitation only, said Whitney.

“He wanted to use his cousins, painting their faces according to tribesmen photographs he’d seen,” said Whitney. “It worked beautifully.”

The 2011 Indian River County Student Juried Exhibition is on display through May 29 and is free of charge. For more information visit or call 231-0707.

The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of presenting sponsors, Jim and Alvina Balog.

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