17th Annual Evening of Excellence Art Show Picks Top 25

Sarasota, Florida – January 19, 2012 – Original works of art by twenty-five students from eight Sarasota County high schools captured top honors Wednesday night as their teachers, families, fans and other competitors cheered. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County kicked off festivities for the 17th Evening of Excellence with its U.S. Trust Reception, announcing Best of Show and Best of School winners for the annual competition.

2. 2012 Evening of Excellence award winners. Front row, l-r: Rachael Tuffland, Billy McConahay, Costantino Toth, Andre Johnson, Micah Mathewson, Tai Ngo. Middle row, l-r: Aubrey Neher, Isa Incaque, Rachel Hayden, Bethany Hamer, Elle Friedberg, Cara Collins, Briana Calderon, Julianna Burns, Elena Bucio, Olivia Russo, event chairwomen Meg Mahoney and Chris Cremer. Back row, l-r: Tori Tatge, Ainya Khachetoorian, Korri Lacalamita, Danielle Lablanc, Mahnoor Kamal, Holly Mastay, Margaret McCampbell, Haley Paulsen. Not pictured: Gabrielle Halula.

Rachael Tuffland, a Phoenix Academy freshman, won the Best of Show title for her electronic media piece, Chicken Comb-Over. Seven other Best of School winners include Julianna Burns from Sarasota High, Cara Collins from Venice High; Margaret McCampbell from Suncoast Polytechnical, Sarah Aubrey Neher from Pine View, Tai Ngo from North Port High, Haley Paulsen from Riverview High, and Tori Tatge from Booker High.

A panel of six art and design professionals selected the top twenty-five out of more than 330 entries submitted by students from every public high school in Sarasota County. All entries were on display for public viewing at the Ringling College of Art and Design, the scene of last night’s announcements.

Susan Scott and Mike Bryant, the Education Foundation’s new executive director and its board chairman, welcomed the audience of over 220 to the reception. School superintendent Lori White congratulated participants and praised families for supporting their students’ talents and aspirations. Ringling College president Dr. Larry Thompson presented the Heart of Art Awards, including free supplies and tuition for summer art classes, to an exemplary young artist from each high school.

Chris Cremer and Meg Mahoney, 2012 Evening of Excellence co-chairwomen, announced the winners. The student artists are donating all twenty-five of their winning pieces – paintings, photographs, mixed media, sculpture and more – to the Education Foundation. Both the students and their art will be photographed by Gene Pollux of Pollux Photography and Digital Imaging. Then each piece will be professionally framed by local galleries that are donating their materials and services.

1. Sponsor U.S. Trust’s Jeffrey Kaiser and Diane Huntley at the Juried Art Show Reception.

Finally, the students will be honored at the Evening of Excellence gala dinner and auction on February 24, when they will see their work auctioned off to the highest bidder. Last year’s event grossed over $250,250 in cash and in-kind support, including a live auction total of $29,400. Proceeds benefit the 41,000 students enrolled in Sarasota County’s public schools through the work of the Education Foundation.

The top twenty-five students receive monetary prizes starting at $500 as well as other gifts and recognition for their talent and generosity. Another five students receive Honorable Mention awards of $100 each. An estimated $40,000 in prizes, scholarships and art department grants will be presented during this year’s Evening of Excellence activities.

The Juried Art Show panel of judges includes Don Brandes and James H. Dean of Ringling College of Art and Design, artists Robert Farrell and Lisa Swift, photographer Gene Pollux, and Matthew McLendon, Ph.D. of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Evening of Excellence is both an innovative art program and a well-established Sarasota social event. This year’s theme is See the Ordinary. Create the Extraordinary., taking inspiration from the student whose award-winning work from last year’s event was adapted for the gala invitation. Sponsorships are available starting at $1,000. Individual tickets are $200, $250 for patrons. The date for this year’s dinner and auction is Friday, February 24. Festivities begin at 6:00 p.m. at Michael’s On East. To request an invitation or for more information, call the Education Foundation at 941-927-0965 or see the web site at www.EdFoundation.net.

4. Education Foundation Executive Director Susan Scott with board chairman Mike Bryant.

Masterpiece Sponsors are Al Weis & Bob Harris of Advanced Network & Services and the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Maestro Sponsors are Bank of America and Mills Gilbane.

Connoisseur Sponsors include Fawley|Bryant, Jeff and Cindy Kaiser, Jon F. Swift, Inc. and The Swift Family Foundation, McIntyre Elwell & Strammer General Contractors, Inc., Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, Tandem Construction, Lakewood Ranch and Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc.

Virtuoso Sponsors are Engineering Matrix, Inc., Norton Hammersley Lopez & Skokos, P.A., Ringling College of Art and Design and SchenkelShultz Architecture. Artiste Sponsors include Advanced Masonry Systems, Bruce and Lisa Beckstein / Gene and Anne Beckstein, Florida Power & Light, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Matthews Eastmore, George W. McGonagill, SCENE Magazine and WilsonMiller – Stantec.

U.S. Trust sponsored the Juried Art Show Reception at Ringling College’s Roskamp Exhibition Hall. IDS – Interior Design Society of Sarasota is the invitation sponsor.

About the Education Foundation. Dedicated to quality education for all children, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County was founded in 1988 as an independent, not-for-profit organization working in partnership with Sarasota County Schools and the community. With the support of individuals, families, businesses, civic groups and foundations, the Education Foundation awards more than a million dollars each year to initiatives that elevate our public schools to the top of Florida’s education system: teacher classroom grants, fine arts programs, scholarships and mentorships, Literacy for Life, the Texcellence Home Computer Donation Program, Teacher of the Year, Academic Olympics and the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair. For more information visit EdFoundation.net or call 941-927-0965.