By Jim Newell
The Orion Art Center held the 19th annual Joan Brace Art Scholarship Awards on Thursday, recognizing area high school seniors for their artistic accomplishments.
The ceremony at the Orion Township Public Library featured works from 41 entries, mostly from Lake Orion High School students.
“This show really surprised me with the wonderful entrants we had this year, with the talent they had,” said Orion Art Center Executive Director Janice Price. “All of the artwork was exceptional this year, not only the variety, but the maturity and they displayed a real affinity for design.”
The students’ art will be on display at the library through the end of the month.
“Just about everybody who comes in to look at the work has wonderful things to say,” Price said.
Mike Hendrix, a local artisan and graduate of Lake Orion, judged the competition.
“It was so difficult because there are so many good pieces here. What makes it hard is that you would like everybody to get a ribbon,” Hendrix said. “For me, judging had a lot to do with the time that was put into (the artwork). I could see the time they put into a particular piece. I can appreciate the hard work.”
First place and a $750 scholarship went to Maya Neideck of Clarkston High School for her scratch board drawing, “Strength.”
Gretchen Altenberger’s colored pencil self-portrait, “Sophrosyne,” earned her second place and a $500 scholarship. Altenberger is a Notre Dame Prep School student.
Ethan Pestano of Lake Orion High School took third place and a $250 scholarship for his digital artwork, “Floating Away.”
Both honorable mentions went to Lake Orion seniors: Hunter Waldroop for his photograph, “32 Coupe”; and Julie Gearig for her watercolor painting of “Baxter.”
Neideck submitted three works, each a pencil drawing on scratchboard. Hendrix said he was “amazed at how time-consuming it must have been for each piece. And they are extremely well done.”
In awarding first place to Neideck for her work “Strength,” Hendrix said: “A lot of the students, I could give them tips, but this one – I can’t improve upon it.”
The Joan Brace Art Scholarship recognizes high school seniors for their artistic achievements. Brace was a painter, sculptor, print-maker, musician and poet who was one of the early founders of the Orion Art Center.
She continued teaching at the Art Center after her retirement from teaching at Avondale High School. The Art Center created the scholarship in her honor.
“She was certainly one of our biggest benefactors,” Price said.