Best of Show: ‘Made for Shade’ shines at 80th SPSA Arts Show
Published:  April 05, 2017

“Made for Shade” by Ray Harding shined as the Best of Show winner, sponsered by Santa Paula Chevrolet, at the 80th Annual Santa Paula Society of the Arts Art & Photography Exhibit. The work also garnered the top prize in the Jury of Your Peers for Mixed Media & Graphics and 2nd in People’s Choice.  

The latest edition of the show, founded in 1937 and the oldest such juried competition in the state, drew art lovers as well as artists to its rewards’ reception held March 18 at Blanchard Community Library, filled with hundreds of entries from the western states.

Thousands of dollars in prizes were awarded to the top winners in each category.

Works in Oil/Acrylic, Watercolor, Photography, Mixed Media and Pastels as well as Photography were judged by the public for the People’s Choice — Pat Johnson Memorial Award, a professional panel of jurors for the Founder’s/Limoneira Award and the artists’ themselves, a hallmark of the acclaimed show that picked the top works for the Jury of Your Peers – Douglas Shively Award of Excellence.

Judges for the show were acclaimed artists Sherry Loehr and Gayle Childress (Oils/Acrylics, W/C, Mixed Media/Graphics and Pastels), Christopher Zsarnay (Photography) and Rex Kochel (Juror).

SPSA President Virginia Gunderson said the show had 256 works this year, including 92 oils.

“We got more oils this year, only 42 watercolors and 36 graphics,” as well as other category works.

The number of Mixed Media & Graphics, said Gunderson “Was amazing, a big category that has become increasingly popular,” partially due to the continuing rise in the use of computers to create art.

As guitarist Barry Cooper played Mike Cossid was busy running down raffle tickets for the array of prizes donated by generous merchants. 

Longtime Show Chairman Gerald Zwers spoke of the founding of the show and its meaning locally.

In 1937, local banker, rancher and artist Douglas Shively convinced the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce to sponsor an art competition, which that year became the annual Santa Paula Art Show. 

Joining Shively was Jessie Arms Botke and Cornelis Botke. Jessie became one of the most extraordinary decorative painters of the 20th Century; her husband was known primarily as an etcher and a block printer but was also a painter of note.

“Their works are museum quality and appear in museums, they’re very collectible,” said Zwers.

Offering, “purchase prizes,” the first art show attracted regionally and nationally recognized artists. For decades, each year the Chamber of Commerce purchased the show’s winning artworks and presented them to the city, or they were acquired by local families and presented as memorials to various city institutions including schools, the library and later the hospital. 

Zwers noted that the SPSA “puts its heart and soul into each annual show to make sure it is great,” and he also noted the contributions of Gunderson — a noted artist and Shively’s niece — with a bouquet of flowers. 

“The show is a wonderful event with a long history in Santa Paula,” said Vice Mayor Ginger Gherardi, who noted she “hopefully sees the day,” that more purchases are added to the Santa Paula Collection that the art museum was founded for.

That collection of more than 400 paintings, said Zwers, is “The most wonderful in Ventura County by far.”

Don Tello, branch president of Santa Paula Community Bank, the corporate sponsor of the Jury of Your Peers – Douglas Shively Award, said the art show reception for artists and the public “Is a special day for me. 

“Everyday, I go to work surrounded by Douglas Shively paintings,” at the bank, the former Citizens State Bank founded by the artist’s father. 

Zwers, wearing a Curious George tie, said his choice of neckwear each year is related to an artist.

His ties include those with art by Monet, Norman Rockwell, Peter Max, Vincent Van Gogh and others.

“Curious George was created at about the same time the art show was founded,” by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. The couple fled Paris in June 1940, on self-made bicycles, “just a few hours before the Nazi invasion,” carrying the Curious George manuscript with them.

Winners of the 80th Annual Santa Paula Arts & Photography Show were —Judges Awards Founders/Limoneira Oils & Acrylics: 1st Hidden Among Poppies, Hilda Kilpatrick-Freyre; 2nd Above and Beyond, Vasquez Rocks, Robert Impellizzeri; 3rd Isabella, Maria Laura Hendrix. Honorable Mention Dulcie Adams, Celeste M. Evans, Jackie Bermudez and Tony Jankowski.

Watercolors: 1st Union Pacific, Dean A. Seagren; 2nd Renewal, Linda Shaner; 3rd Fontana del Pantheon, Stephanie Fielden. Honorable Mention: Dennis Jay Hakim, Soni McFarland, Bienvenido Sibug and Dennis Jay Hakim.

Photography: 1st Yuletide Sunset in Santa Paula, Mario Rodriguez; 2nd Bag Man, Michael Wood; 3rd Hanging Out, Ramona Andrews. Honorable Mention Bruce David McFarland, Norma Warden, Robert Diehl and Kaarina Tienhaara.

Mixed Media & Graphics: 1st Boy at Play, Thomas Dase; 2nd Lovely Lady, Bienvenido Sibug; 3rd Mystic, Sharon Butler. Honorable Mention: Norman Kirk, Susan Colla, Ray Harding and Virginia Buckle.

Pastels: 1st Benni and Hanna, Tasia Erickson; 2nd Cathedral Rock, Lynn Byrne Simon; 3rd Getty Flowers, Geni Weeks. Honorable Mention Sherri Cassell, Sydney Kopeikin, Miriam Calderon and Chris Williams.

People’s Choice Awards – Pat Johnson Memorial — Oils & Acrylics: 1st Garden Bench, Kent Butler; 2nd Apples, Pears and Ceramic, Tony Jankowsi; 3rd Peekaboo, Kathy Jonokuchi. 

Watercolors — 1st A “Rich” View of Santa Paula, Nancy D. Blemker; 2nd I’m Learning, Bienvenido Sibug; 3rd Reservoir and Rosy Cliffs, Dorothy Orr. 

Photography — 1st Hanging Out, Ramona Adams;  2nd Waiting for the Taxi, Robert Diehl; 3sYuletide Sunset in Santa Paula, Mario Rodriguez. 

Mixed Media & Graphics — 1st Geisha Crane Dance, Sharon Butler; 2nd Made for Shade, Ray Harding; 3rd Renaissance Man, Susan V. Magness.

Pastels — 1st Backlit, Judy Klement; 2nd Fall Color, Deni Weeks; 3rd Husband’s Portrait, Pamela Salem.

Jury of Your Peers: Douglas Shively Award of Excellence — Oils & Acrylics, Sedona’s Skyline, Eric A. Seller; Watercolors, Reservoir and Rosy Cliffs, Dorothy Orr; Photography, Mezquita History Multiple-X, Bruce McFarland; Mixed Media & Graphics, Made for Shade, Ray Harding; Pastels, Dream of Spring, Sherri Cassell. 

Best of Show: Made for Shade, Ray Harding.

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