The first annual Bridgeport Art Center/Illinois Art Education Association Art Educators’ Competition Exhibition opened to an unusually cheerful crowd of several hundred artists and their supporters on Friday evening, April 17 at the BAC gallery. The exhibition presents work by 95 artists who teach art in K-12 schools throughout the Northeast Illinois region. Given the responsibilities of full-time teachers at the K-12 level, it is no surprise that many art teachers have few opportunities to practice their art and even fewer to show their own talents as artists. For this reason, IAEA vice-president John Zilewicz proposed the exhibition and plans to make it an annual tradition. Organizers of the show were pleased by the large response. John Zilewicz and Bridgeport Art Center curator Lelde Kalmite juried the show and Lelde selected the prize winners.
Prizes were awarded to art work in a variety of media, including oil and acrylic painting, assemblage, digital photography, watercolor, and mixed media.
Best of Show award ($500) went to Mike Bale of Lake Zurich High School, Lake Zurich, for his watercolor Train Shapes. John Zilewicz, of Niles West High School in Skokie won Second Prize ($300) for his mixed media work, Any Hand. Jill Obermaier of Morton West High School in Berwyn won the $200 Third Prize for her digital photo, Transmutation.
Several Honorable Mention prizes were also awarded ($100): Andrew MacCrimmon of Lincoln Hall Middle School, Lincolnwood; Carole McCulley of Warren Township High School, Gurnee; Blake Novotny of Highland Park High School, Highland Park; Katheryn Parenti of Metea Valley High School, Aurora; Lauren Pennington of Lorca Elementary School, Chicago; Eleni Sianis of Glenbard South and West High Schools, Glen Ellyn; and Lisa Wax of Whitney Young Magnet High School, Chicago.
In addition to these cash awards, one art teacher, Matthew Winkelman of Lake Zurich High School, was awarded a free summer course at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The exhibit was a valuable opportunity for artists who teach in the K-12 schools to be recognized for their own creative work as artists. The show continues until June 5.