Omar Chacon and Christine Gray.
The event takes place in the bitter month of January each year. The top ten finalists are welcomed down to Miami University for a lecture given by the esteemed juror; this year, the vivacious Irene Hofmann of SITE Santa Fe. There is a reception open to the public at the gallery where two works from all ten finalists shine. This year the work in the exhibition was exceptional. A few of my favorites: a drawing by Caleb Taylor of Kansas City, Missouri, acrylics on panel by Kevin Bernstein of Manhattan, Kansas, and paintings by Angie Zielinski of Pocatello, Idaho. The awards, cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd, as well as the William & Dorothy Yeck purchase prize are announced to an eager crowd of artists, students, and faculty. Artists make the journey from all across the country, not knowing who will be the fortunate winners. After announcing the 2nd and 3rd place prizes, which went to two of my favorites in the exhibition Caleb and Angie, Irene Hofmann announced my name as the 2012 winner. I was overjoyed and extremely surprised! Surrounded by so much wonderful painting, I felt honored to have been chosen.
A sincere and special thank you to Irene Hofmann, Ann Taulbee, Miami University, and the William and Dorothy Yeck Foundation. Thank you to all the painters in the exhibition that made it such a wonderful night, it was nice to meet and chat with so many of you!