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Award Winners from the Naples National Art Festival 2012 Announced




Naples, Fla. (February 25, 2012) The Naples Art Association at The von Liebig Art Center announces Best in Show and Awards of Distinction winners for the 33rd Annual Naples National Art Festival. The show drew more than 800 artist applications, and about 260 artists from across the United States exhibited at the 2-day festival held on February 25 and 26 in Cambier Park and along 8thStreet South in downtown Naples. More than 15,000 people attended the show.

Judges for the show included Jane Manus and Michele Valencourt.  Originally from upstate New York, Valencourt received her Bachelor’s degree in Art, Art History, and Literature from the State University of NY at Brockport. In 1995, she became executive director for the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County. She became the first Executive Director for the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda in 2001. Through the arts center, she has led efforts to create the Fine Arts Festival, Peace River National Arts Festival, and opened a state of the art pottery studio and art technology lab.

Jane Manus is an international sculptor working in metal. She was born in New York City and received her BFA from Rollins College and the Art Institute of Boston. She had her first solo exhibition in 1976. Her sculpture is included in the public collections of the Harn Museum of Art, The Lincoln Center/List Collection, New York; The Georgia Museum of Art, the Sagamore Collection, Miami Beach; the Cornell Fine Art Museum; the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami; The Butler Institute of American Art; the Flint Institute of Art, Michigan, The Cleveland Clinic Collection, Cleveland; Vero Beach Museum of Art and multiple others.

“People have this idea that fine art has to always be very serious; I love to see humor in art,” Valencourt said. “There were some very joyful, whimsical pieces of artwork in this show.”  The judges said they were very impressed with the high quality of work at the Naples National Art Festival, as well as the balance of types of art on view. 

After carefully reviewing all show booths, the judges evaluated work based on artistic merit, craftsmanship and technical competence.  Scott Amrhein, a glass artist from Sherwood, Wisconsin, was selected to win Best in Show. Both judges independently favored Amrhein as their choice. “The best always rises to the top, and I could not get him out of my mind, even after looking at all of the other works,” Valencourt said. Manus agreed. “His work is just fantastic.”Amrhein combines natural and man-made materials to create kiln-formed glass vessels presented on copper or concrete pedestals. He uses a variety of copper and silver applications to produce color and depth in the glass.

Best in 2D was awarded to John Costin, a printmaker from Tampa, Florida. “His work was technically exquisite; a beautiful rendition of Florida birds. He has really mastered representing the anatomy of the birds,” Valencourt said.

Albert Benedict, a sculptor from Whitewater, Wisconsin received the Best in 3D Award. “I loved the originality and humor in his work. Plus it was beautifully crafted,” said Manus.

The following artists won Awards of Distinction in 2D artwork: Painter Lin Seslar of Evergreen, Colorado; Printmaker James Nemnich of Indialantic, Florida; Printmaker Michael Wommack of Langhorne, Pennsylvania; Printmaker Gillian Kemper of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Photographer Michael Bryant of Atlanta, Georgia.

The following artists received an Award of Distinction for their 3D artwork: Jeweler Lauran Sundin from Concord, New Hampshire; Jeweler Christiane Hampel of Naples, Florida; Wood Artist Marilyn Endres of Driftwood, Texas; Ceramic Artist John Herbon of Saint Ignace, Michigan; and Sculptor Nnamdi Okonkwo of Fayetteville, Georgia.

The annual art festival serves as a significant fund raiser for the Naples Art Association, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funds raised from this event are used for children’s scholarships for the organizations summer art classes as well as for annual programming and exhibition.

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Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on March 4, 2012 at 10:18pm

Thanks for posting the award winners.  Always nice to reward artists for great work.

Comment by Kathleen Taylor on February 28, 2012 at 8:24pm

You are very welcome. I'll keep that in mind for future posts, too. Also, Christiane Hampel is a part of the group!

Comment by Connie Mettler on February 28, 2012 at 6:01pm

Thanks for all this info, Kathleen, and thanks for including the judges remarks. We are always curious about "what were they thinking?"

Sometimes it seems the judges select lots of local people, but you surely can't say this about this group. 

Congrats to members of this site who took home the awards including Michael Wommack, Michael Bryant and John Costin.

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