Evening Of Excellence
Written by Joyce Cattelane
See the Ordinary. Create the Extraordinary
John Lubbock said, “As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” To have the talent to put paintbrush to canvas and end up with a stunning work of art is awe-inspiring. And when that work of art is created by a young adult, it is all the more inspiring because of the future possibilities and potential that awaits. And when that young adult is able to generate an impressive sum of money for his or her art work – that’s fantastic!
That’s what happened February 24 at the 17th Annual Evening of Excellence benefit that raised over $258,000 in cash and in-kind support for Sarasota County schools and a live auction total of $45,450. This year’s theme was “See the Ordinary. Create the Extraordinary,” inspired by one of last year’s winning student works, Flower Bomb. The event combines an elegant dinner and lively auction that puts the 25 Best of the Best student art works on the auction block.
The 17th Annual Evening of Excellence Art Show was held in January, sponsored by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and top honors were won by 25 students from eight Sarasota County high schools, whose art work was auctioned at the February benefit.
At its U.S. Trust Reception, over 200 were in the audience to honor the Best of Show and Best of School winners who were announced for the annual competition, and they were welcomed by Susan Scott, the Education Foundation’s new executive director, and Mike Bryant, board chairman.
Three winners from North Port High School were announced: Tai Ngo with his painting, Damoiselle Ombre, winner of the ME3 Consulting Engineers Merit Award; Mahnoor Kamal and her painting Urban Melding, winner of the Dr. Ken and Chris Pfahler Merit Award; and Korri Lacalamita and her painting, Black Betty, winner of the Southwest Construction Services, Inc. Art Award. Scott said, “I am just in awe of the talent and generosity of these students. Tai, Mahu and Korri – and those who came before them – have made it possible for the Evening of Excellence Student Art Program to raise more than $2.2 million for Sarasota County’s public schools since 1996.”
The three North Port students have definite feelings about art and its importance in their lives. Tai Ngo: “See the world through your canvas.” Mahu Kamal said, “Art has always been a critical part of my life, allowing me to express my ideas, feelings, and thoughts in a creative way. I feel that art is all around us and a part of the human soul. It is an honor and a blessing that I can capture a small part of the beauty of the world, even though my art could never do the natural world’s beauty any justice.” And Korri Lacalamita added, “Art has been a part of my life from a very early age and always will be. Art allows me to express what I cannot say out loud. Through my art I can get all my feelings out and my work truly expresses my mood and views at that point in time in my life. The earth without art is just ‘eh.’”
Marilyn Caruso, art teacher of all three students, said, “I am extremely proud of these art students, who’ve made it into the 2012 Evening of Excellence. I am also pleased that Sarasota Education Foundation sponsors an event like this, which validates the visual arts and brings awareness to the incredible talent within NPHS. Art in public schools is essential and it is proven that the arts stimulate the brain in ways that conventional instruction cannot.”
School superintendent Lori White congratulated the participants, whose pieces – sculpture, photographs, mixed media and paintings – were photographed by Gene Pollux of Pollux Photography and Digital Imaging, professionally framed and donated to the Education Foundation. The students also received monetary prizes.
A panel of six art and design professionals selected the top 25 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 Evening of Excellence is an innovative art program and established Sarasota social event that raises significant funds every year. Proceeds benefit the 41,000 students enrolled in Sarasota County public schools through the work of the Education Foundation.
For more information on the Education Foundation, visit www.edfoundation.net or call (941) 927-0965.