Inspirata da Venezia inspires a $23,100 winning bid for painting.
Sarasota, Florida – March 2, 2009 – The audience rose with a roar when auctioneer Jimmy Dean announced the winning bid for Radio Geisha, a colorful acrylic painting by Venice High School senior Nichole Timoney. Final bid for the piece was $23,100, setting an all-time record for a single work of student art at the Education Foundation’s 14th annual “Evening of Excellence” benefit last Friday night.
The winning bid was made by philanthropist Al Weis, who also purchased the Best of Show painting by Timoney’s classmate, Amberose Courville. Both student art works will be donated by Weis back to the school district to be displayed in the artists’ names.
The benefit grossed well over $260,000 in cash and in-kind support, including a live auction total of $50,500. Education Foundation executive director Cindy Kaiser and board chairman Chris Pfahler thanked supporters and recognized this year’s award-winning high school artists, their parents and their art teachers. Sherry Burd and Hartley O’Brien co-chaired the event, leading a committee of twenty-six dedicated volunteers. Honorary Chairs were Jon and Janey Swift, long-time Foundation supporters. The event’s theme, Inspirata da Venezia, was inspired by one of last year’s student paintings – My Town – that held the previous record for highest single bid at $11,000.
“Evening of Excellence” is not only an innovative art program but also an established Sarasota social event that raises significant funds each year, benefitting 41,000 children in the public schools through the work of the Education Foundation. The event combines an elegant dinner with a spirited auction that puts the 25 Best of the Best student art works on the auction block. The program has raised more than $1.5 million for Sarasota County’s public schools over the past fourteen years, while raising awareness about the vital role the arts play in learning.
Venice, Florida shared the spotlight with its namesake city in Italy. This year’s event theme, Inspirata da Venezia (Inspired from Venice), inspired young artists from Venice High School: 11 of the top 25 student works selected from 296 entries in the competition were created by students of Craig Seidell, longtime art instructor at the school. The evening also features entertainment by the Venice High School Chamber Chorus, Le Voci di Venezia, under the direction of Steve Johns.
Student art awards of $500 to $2,000 were presented to each of the 21 winning students, four of whom had two pieces in the top 25. Combining the generosity of art award sponsors with proceeds from the benefit, over $40,000 in monetary and in-kind gifts was given to the student artists, the art teachers and high school art departments. “EVE OF EXCELLENCE 2009 TOP 25 & AWARDS” list
Masterpiece Sponsors include W.G. Mills, Inc. and Herald-Tribune Media Group. Connoisseur Sponsors are BMK Architects, Inc., Jon F. Swift, Inc., Kraft Construction Company, Inc., Questar Construction, Inc., Verizon and Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc.
Virtuoso Sponsors are Comcast, Fawley Bryant Architects, Inc., Norton Hammersley Lopez & Skokos, P.A., Ringling College of Art and Design, Seibert Architects, P.A. and Tandem Construction. Artiste Sponsors include Congressman Vern and Sandy Buchanan, BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc., Dick and Carlotta Cooley, Florida Power & Light, Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Hilb Rogal & Hobbs of Florida, Inc., M&I Wealth Management, Matthews Eastmoore Hardy Crauwels & Garcia, P.A., McIntyre Elwell & Strammer General Contractors, Inc. and WilsonMiller.
Student art awards, scholarships and grants included Best of Show and Best of School awards. Best of Show was Warm Seas Breath, a large and colorful acrylic painting by Venice High School senior Amberose Courville. Courville has participated in “Evening of Excellence” for three years, each year making the top 25, this year with two winning pieces. Michael Courville, local architect and Amberose’s father, donated a print of one of his original paintings to raise additional funds at this year’s event.
For the first time, the Omar Cooper Artistic Achievement Award was awarded to a high school junior who is also receiving a year-long mentorship with an arts professional. The Mary Mills Damon Art Award and three W.G. Mills Student Art Awards were sponsored by W.G. Mills, Inc. Jack and B.J. Hunkele sponsored the Hunkele Fine Arts Award to recognize an outstanding student artwork influenced by the work of the Old Masters or the Impressionists. Gerald S. Kaplan sponsored the Nancy Kaplan Art for Today Award in honor of his wife, an artist. The Caroline and Michael Zucker Free Spirit Art Award was made to a young artist to explore new horizons in her imagination. The proprietors of Zoria, a downtown Sarasota restaurant, encourage artistry and passion through their sponsorship of the Zoria Art Awards. Other awards were made possible by Lisa Carlton and Rob Robinson, Susan and Phil Morris, Freeman Orthodontics, the Private Client Group at National City, and Sutter Roofing.
W. G. Mills, Inc. sponsored “Evening of Excellence” Art Department Awards that were presented to each of the schools that participate in the program. The Ringling College of Art and Design provided the Heart of Art Award, summer art classes and supplies, to an exemplary student from each participating school. The Juried Art Show panel of judges included James H. Dean and Peter Rampson, Ringling College of Art and Design, Joyce Hart ASID and Jeff Hart ASID, Robb & Stucky, art educator Jon Corby, and photographer Gene Pollux.
The student artists donated their winning art works, which were then elaborately framed by local galleries that donated their time, materials, and talent. Participating framers include Anne’s Frame & Art Gallery, Collectors Gallery & Framery, FAST Frame of Sarasota, Final Touch Frame and Gallery, Gulf Breeze Framing, Gulf Gate Frame Center, Jessica’s Picture Framing, Julie London Picture Framing, Karchelle’s Custom Framing and Art Gallery, Kennedy Studios Graphics & Framing, Uptown Framers/Framer of the Arts, The Frame Shop, and William Hartman Galleries.
The “Evening of Excellence” volunteer committee headed by Sherry Burd and Hartley O’Brien includes Mina Ajrab, Amy Archer, Chellie Gardiner, Cathi Bell, Lisa Beckstein, Kelly Collins, Jimmy Dean, Libby Early, Marcia Goldstein, Melanie Hensey, Lindsay Howell, Melba Jimenez, Mollie Johnson, Meg Mahoney, Helen C. Martin, Cecelia Mills, Roxy Mollod, Alix Morin, Melissa O’Buch, Caryn Patterson, Janice Piedra, Cyndi Schwartz, Renee Sleight, Janey Swift, Anita Zimmerman, and Caroline Zucker. Christine A. Brown is the program director.
Dedicated to quality education for all children, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with the community and Sarasota County public schools. With the support of individuals, families, companies and foundations, the Education Foundation awards more than $1,200,000 each year to initiatives including the TeXcellence Computer Donation program, the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, Teacher of the Year, Academic Olympics, classroom grants, fine arts programs, and literacy initiatives. For more information call 941-927-0965.