National artists win awards in Naples Art Association festival

2013 Naples National Art Festival Winners. Photo Credit: Naples Art Association

2013 Naples National Art Festival Winners. Photo Credit: Naples Art Association

The Naples National Art Festival in Cambier Park and along Park Street, hosted by the Naples Art Association, features more than 260 artists from around the country through today (Sunday, Feb. 24) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Top artists will take home a total of $5,000 in prizes.

2013 Best in Show goes to Sculpture Artist John Petrey. Earning the top 2D category award was Photographer Cali Hobgood, and the top 3D award goes to ceramic artist Michael Schwegmann. Ten awards of distinction were also selected.

Two art professionals evaluate each artists’ work to select the winners. R. Lynn Whitelaw juried the 2D artwork. He is the curator for the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College. And Marisa J. Pascucci, curator of 20th Century & Contemporary Art at Boca Raton Museum of Art, juried the 3D artwork.

“Immediately when I saw John Petrey’s work, I knew I wanted to recognize his art with an award,” Pascucci said. “The whimsy and use of surprising materials and craftsmanship using those materials to create his art was just spectacular.” He uses many found objects and makes them look beautiful. She adds that Schwegmann’s work surprised her. “The quality of his work and the illusion he created really drew me in. He has an intriguing type of ceramic work with dramatic scale and great color that united his work and drew me in. As I got closer, I was surprised it was ceramic.”

Whitelaw was pleased overall with the quality of photography in the Naples National Art Festival. “It was good to see photographers moving out into new directions with the process, featuring new subjects and perspective.” Particularly taken with photographic artist Cali Hobgood’s work. “She has taken on a singular focus in each of her images, which are really just everyday objects. But she is giving them monumentality.” This idea was expressed by both judges about award winning artists this year, how every day – mundane, even – objects were used and elevated in artwork and the commentary it may suggest of idea that art makes us stop and look at details that we might not routinely notice.

Awards winners and their artist statements are listed below. For those with websites, this article links to them; just click on the blue names.

Best in Show

John Petrey - Sculpture - Best in Show
John Petrey, Sculpture
, Chattanooga, Tennessee
: I create whimsical sculptural dresses from vintage and found objects. They range in size from table top pieces to larger than life.

Best 2D

Cali Hobgood - Photography - Best 2DCali Hobgood, Photography, Urbana, Illinois: Photographs printed in a traditional wet silver-process darkroom and then painted, using oils.

Best 3D

Michael Schwegmann - Best 3DMichael Schwegmann, Ceramics, Champaign, Illinois: I hand form these pieces from wheel thrown and hand built porcelain pieces. I glaze my work to look like corroded metal, and then I also apply other glazes. These additional glazes complete the illusion of the object, indicate the true material (ceramic), and add another layer of beauty or sculptural interest.

Awards of Distinction 3D

Brianna MartrayBrianna Martray, Bronze Sculpture, Hannibal, Missouri: I’m fascinated with biomorphic shapes that are repeated throughout the microscopic and macro-cosmic. Within that context, I think of myself as a landscape artist exploring new possibilities of surreal and unique flora and fauna. Everything is unique cast bronze, or stainless steel, lost wax method. All pieces are one of a kind.

Richard RyanRichard Ryan, Glass, Bourbonnais, Illinois: Blown and hand carved glass sculptures. Colors are layers of glass. Carved using diamond wheels and sandblasting. My goal is to create work that appears to be alive.

Patti and Bob SternPatti and Robert Stern, Mixed Media 3D, Moreland Hills, Ohio: we construct clock head sculptures and curio cabinets using architectural antiques..They resemble the human form. We paint and glaze the finishes for antiquity.

Alison BearAlison Bear, Jewelry, Gainesville, Georgia: Working between historic artworks and modern aesthetics my work is a fusion of old and new. Inspired by Russian Icons and Russian architecture through the years as well as the delicate work of the Victorian period each piece has strong lines influenced by architecture, such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, with a juxtaposition of delicate, feminine, and intricate detail of Victorian wardrobe and jewelry. The pieces become modern through their contrast, boldness, and size on the wearer. They are wearable art that create a statement.

Kevin DesplanquesKevin Desplanques, Furniture, Mancos, Colorado: I craft my unique furniture using the stack lamination process. This process allows me to create unique shapes that can only be accomplished by using this technique. I believe that my sculpted chairs are the most comfortable and ergonomically correct chairs available. This level of comfort can only be achieved by hand sculpting every element of my furniture. In addition to my wooden chairs I will be introducing a full line of cast bronze furniture soon. All of my wooden creations are one of a kind and I make a conscientious effort to make every piece totally unique. I am asked by many woodworkers if I use computer automated equipment to create my forms. I take this as a great complement to the precision I achieve using only my hands, eyes and creative mind to guide me through each creation. I rarely use exotic woods but occasionally I see such beauty in a piece of wood I feel compelled to give it life in one of my pieces. I believe that my chairs re-define the term, functional art.

Awards of Distinction 2D

Bruce Peeso

Bruce Peeso, Pastel Painting, Massachusetts: Acrylic paintings on board designed to emphasize the vastness and peacefulness of the American landscape. I personally do all of the painting, matting and framing for all of my images. I travel extensively taking 4×6 photo reference for my paintings.

Steve PidcockSteve Pidcock, Photography, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: The influence my father had on my life with photography has been profound. I would watch as he would waste film and my time taking a photo of a dead tree or a fence post. One Christmas I was offered cash or my father’s old used Miranda 35 SLR camera. I took the camera. I started to take pictures of fence posts and dead trees. I found the beauty thru the lens that he found in texture and lighting. George Pidcock was a semi professional photographer and taught me the basics of black and white, darkroom, and camera functions as well as the passion of exploring ideas, and environment. As an educator in the school systems he taught photography as well as other academic subjects.

Rick AbramsRick Abrams, Digital Art, Deland, Florida: Digital collage shadowbox created by combining found media, objects, and pictures into a seamless multidimensional format.

Atsuko OkamotoAtsuko Okamoto, Painting, Boynton Beach, Florida: I seek to create a new architecture of the imagination where diverse and opposing geometric elements are harmonized within a holistic visual universe. Oil on canvas features clean lines that accentuate colors and forms. NY art critic Ronny Cohen wrote: “This exquisite, visionary art depicts a vivid, captivating pictorial universe where beauty and harmony reign.”

Ummarid EitharongUmmarid (Tony) Eitharong, Mixed Media 2D, Orlando, Florida: acrylic, charcoal, oil stick on large water color paper.

The Naples Art Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1954 by local artists. It will host two more exciting national festivals this season in March, which you can read about at this link:


Its mission is to educate and promote visual arts in Southwest Florida. Through its programs, the Naples Art Association is dedicated to serving individual artists of all ages and skill levels, along their creative journeys. The NAA operates The von Liebig Art Center, located at 585 Park Street in downtown Naples. It’s open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays in season. For more information, please call 239-262-6517, visit, like us on Facebook at or follow Twitter at

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