Martha's Vineyard art students take the prize
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School sophomore Michael Leahy-Patnaude, 15, from Edgartown, regularly prowls Martha's Vineyard, camera in hand, seeking inspiration and perfect images - and his dedication has brought rewards. Mr. Leahy-Patnaude's digital photograph, "Coffee Club" of a casual grouping of men outside Your Market in Edgartown, earned him a Gold Key, a top award from The Boston Globe Scholastic Art Show. The Gold Key was awarded to only 300 of this year's approximately 5,200 entries from 343 schools.
"I always have my camera with me," Mr. Leahy-Patnaude said. "I'm constantly taking pictures. I noticed that a group of Island guys meet every day between Your Market and Trader Fred's in Edgartown. They sit on the benches and talk. I kept going back and got a shot that turned out to be the right one, I guess," he said.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Sixteen-year-old Vineyard Haven high school sophomore Tova Katzman's almost mystical black and white photograph, "With the Sheep," was selected best of show (American Vision Award). Ms. Katzman was one of only five entrants to be awarded best of show on January 20, and the only regional photographer to win that award. She will continue on to compete nationally for the American Visions Award in May.
"We were shooting at my friend's farm in Vineyard Haven for a school assignment. I didn't really have a firm idea. We kept looking, and then we found a greenhouse with sheep in it. The greenhouse had great light and Nina [Levin] was among the sheep. And it worked out," Ms. Katzman explained.
The Scholastic Art Show began in 1950, the result of the efforts of a group of Massachusetts art educators working with The Boston Globe to recognize the talents of their students. Part of a national competition, it has become one of the most prestigious awards given in the field for students from seventh to twelfth grade.
Students submit entries in 12 different categories: animation, ceramics and glass, computer art, design, digital imagery, drawing, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video and film. Winners receive American Vision Awards, Gold or Silver keys, or Honorable Mention awards. The national judging takes place in May in New York City, when the New England regional Gold and Silver key winners artwork will be judged. Nationally, more than 100,000 pieces were submitted to regional competitions; in New England nearly twice as many as last year.
The awards were recognized with fanfare in a ceremony in Boston on Sunday, Feb. 8, at the John Hancock Hall, which included a speech from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
In all, 14 Island high school students took honors in the nearly 60-year-old scholastic art competition; including six first place gold keys in addition to Mr. Leahy-Patnaude and Ms. Katzman: seniors Raymond Ewing (a repeat Gold Key winner in photography), Nicole Pachico (photography), Emilija Schreck (design), junior Naomi Scott (mixed media), sophomore Janelle Fortes (drawing and painting) and charter school student Sydney Dunbrack (drawing) move on to New York to compete in the national judging.
Hannah Marlin (photography) and Jessica Seidman (apparel design) received Silver Keys.
Honorable Mention awards went to Nicholas Gross, Ms. Katzman (photography), and freshman Kelly Gazaille in cooperation with classmate Maggie Johnson (digital photography), and charter school entrant Anna Hughes (drawing).
Vineyard art students have repeatedly distinguished themselves in the Globe's art competition, and students are quick to credit their teachers. Ms. Katzman and Mr. Leahy Patnaude praise art department chairman and teacher Paul Brissette, and photography instructor and photography and graphics teacher Chris Baer.
"Mr. Brissette helped pick a couple of photos last year and this year," Ms. Katzman said. "Mr. Baer helped me narrow my choices to two, but said I had to pick one. I picked the right one, I guess."
Both students admitted they were shocked to learn that they had won. "I'm excited - I didn't know there were so many people in it," Ms. Katzman said. "Photography is something I'm getting more and more interested in. Mr. Baer has taught me a lot. I'm definitely going to [college] in the arts."
"I wasn't even thinking of winning," Mr. Leahy-Patnaude said. "Mr. Baer kept encouraging me to enter, so I did. This [award] has gotten me more motivated. I want to go to college for photography in New York City."
The more than 900 winning pieces are on display at the State Transportation Building at 10 Park Plaza through February 27. The exhibit is free and open to the public weekdays 9 am to 5 pm and weekends from 12 noon to 5 pm.
Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Martha's Vineyard Times.