Fort Myers Beach Art Association awards scholarships to student artists
The importance of the scholarships handed out to art students at the Fort Myers Beach Art Association’s student show Sunday can’t be stressed enough. It’s a tradition that goes back to the 1950’s for the group. The association’s members look forward to it every year. Giving out scholarships and merit awards to the gifted art students from Cypress Lake Center for the Arts is among their proudest moments.
To call the art students gifted would be an understatement. The 12 students whose art is being showcased as part of the 2021 class, under the guidance of four faculty members, produced a startling variety of art for the show. The program gained an audience on Fort Myers Beach as their works will hang in the association’s gallery at Donora Boulevard and Shell Mound Boulevard through today (March 31).
The judging was considered a tough exercise for Shell Point Retirement Community artists Suzanne Bennett and Renee Chastant. Three scholarships ranging from $800 for Nayeli Ruiz to the top prize of $1,200 for Averi Roes-Kern were given out, in addition to $50 merit awards to the rest.
Top prize went to Averi Roes-Kern, who overwhelmed the judges with several advanced artworks that covered multiple forms of art and styles including pieces that could be used as costumes for dramatic productions.
Chastant was particularly impressed with a self portrait Roes-Kern did of himself as part of a “showdown” with a friend’s cat. Chasant said “it makes your eyes move.”
Roes-Kern, who is planning to attend the University of South Florida, entered in projects he has completed from his freshman year to his senior year. He is most proud of his 3-D artworks that feature costumes from a rabbit to something out of the “Lord of the Rings.”
As for the self portrait, Roes-Kern said he “wanted to play with the negative space” which obscures that he is under a park bench in the showdown with his friend’s cat.
Zoe Fountain won a $1,000 second prize for her collection of works on the different types of students she knows and a papier-mache with acrylic paint “orchisaurus” inspired by plants and a “Jurassic Park” dinosaur. Fountain use recyclable plates from a family dinner for the project.
Fountain said she chose to make a collection of artwork of her friends as part of her concentration in school on stereotypes. “I made a lot of different types of friends,” Fountain said. Fountain will be attending the New College of Florida in Sarasota.
“They are working with more mediums,” Chastant said of the students.
Gabrielle Morris was one of nine students who earned $50 merit awards. Bennett said Morris showed “a lot of maturity” in her work. “There is a lot of technical and artistic maturity of someone seven years older.” Morris has received a generous scholarship offer though she is still waiting her options for college.
Her standout works included a night owl using gouache and a portrait of her 12-year-old brother crouching at a water park in graphite pencil. “He’ll usually sit like a frog,” she said.
Olivia Bevillard presented several watercolor and acrylic works with bold, vibrant colors. She was accepted at Florida Gulf Coast University and plans on attending there while working on her art portfolio. Some of the subjects included “fear of the dark” and “loss of the self.”
“I try to get a lot of vibrance in my paintings,” Bevillard said.
Marguerite Petcher is one of the faculty members. She thanked the association for being “very supportive of our program.” Petcher was part of the art show when she was a student at Cypress Lake Center for the Arts. She said the average student takes two to three art classes a year at the school. There are about 100 students total enrolled. Students have to audition to be accepted.
Fort Myers Beach Art Association Publicity Director Pam Flaherty said “I’m just thrilled that our organization is able to do this. It’s so refreshing to see a younger generation and how contemporary … We are seeing the world through their vision.”