, Newburyport, MA

March 6, 2014

Best of the best, youth edition

Pentucket senior wins top prize in NAA exhibit

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — A local student can thank “Fate” for his Best of Show win in the Newburyport Art Association Young & Budding Artists Show.

“Fate” is the name of the sculpture crafted by Pentucket Regional High School senior Matthew Thompson. The winged serpentine woman is a character he had created a few years ago and decided to explore further in his character sculpture class.

“I was just fooling around a bit on my computer and came up with the design, and I really liked it,” Thompson said. “I got the character the way she is now, and I enjoy her design and wanted to explore it in a 3-D medium.”

Teacher Sean Bixby encouraged Thompson to enter the piece, which is wax-based clay over a wire frame, in the art show.

“I’m not usually one to win things,” said Thompson, who is 18 and lives in Groveland. “This is a huge surprise. I was shocked, really.

“I’m really grateful, too, because I spent a lot of work on that,” he said. “I’m just glad people enjoy it.”

Thompson recently got accepted into Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, where he hopes to study illustration but is keeping his options open.

“I’m super-excited about that,” he said. “I can’t wait to go.”

Juror AJ Smith, a Newburyport illustrator and children’s book author, said he was drawn to Thompson’s sculpture as soon as he saw it.

“It was probably the one that I gravitated toward first, but in the back of my head, I had reservations about (whether it should) be traditional media,” Smith said. “At the end, I just went with my gut and what I felt was the strongest piece.”

In his juror’s comments, Smith wrote that the sculpture combines “an unnerving balance of beauty with a fantastical, almost grotesque anatomy.”

Smith spent the majority of the day Tuesday looking over the 134 works in the exhibit, which is part of the association’s ArtLink educational outreach program. Local students in grades one through 12 created pieces in acrylic, digital art, drawing, fine crafts, mixed media, oil, pastel, photography, printmaking, sculpture and watercolor.

“The students can be proud of every single piece that’s in there,” Smith said. “On a larger scale, the community should be really proud of the work that the students are doing in the schools.”

The exhibit opens tomorrow and runs through March 23. A free reception and awards presentation will take place this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

If you go

What: Young & Budding Artists Show

When: March 7-23. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Free reception and awards presentation this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Where: Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St.

More information: 978-465-8769 or

Winning works

Ruthanne Arbeit Excellence Award for Best of Show: Matthew Thompson, grade 12, “Fate,” sculpture

Joan Gessner Awards for Excellence: Kayla Houton-Sullivan, grade one, “The Bird Painting,” acrylic; Kaylie Dalgar, grade two, “Lighthouse,” watercolor; Audrey Conover, grade three, “The Dachshund,” watercolor; Gabriel Michalman, grade four, “On Thin Ice,” pastel; Matthew Reeves, grade five, “Happy Trees,” acrylic; Chris Wilkinson, grade six, “Life of Pie,” drawing; Nick D’alessandro, grade seven, “Bison,” mixed media; Olivia Landry, grade eight, “Spike,” drawing; Jessica Dickinson, grade nine, “Strength,” pastel; Madeline Harrington, grade 10, “The Mariner,” drawing; Jeremy Hean, grade 11, “Vincent, The Immortal Man,” sculpture; Will Clayton, grade 12, “The Return,” watercolor

The Walsingham Gallery Awards for Excellence: Ali Moore, grade 10, “Lavender’s Ruse,” pastel; Jackie Gillespie, grade 10, “Celebration of the Heart,” mixed media; Ashley Miller, grade 12, “Mirror,” photography; Brandon Duford, grade 12, “Snowy Owl,” photography; Gabrielle Cole, grade 12, “The Edge of the Wilderness,” watercolor

Currier Awards for Excellence: Hannah Clark, grade 10, “Love Birds,” mixed media; Maeve Callewaert, grade 11, “Paisley Lighthouse,” mixed media; Chloe Hammond, grade nine, “Ominous,” watercolor; Erin Savage, grade nine, “Untitled,” scratchboard

Howard Dalton Memorial Award for Excellence: Amber Rohlberg, grade two, “Sweet,” sculpture

Christine Molitor Johnson Award for Excellence: Kaci Kus, grade 12, “Lionel,” oil

Beverly Mitchell Award for Excellence: Kayley Lima, grade 12, “The Art of Living,” watercolor and ink

Bob Gertz Memorial Award for Excellence: Clara Sage Brandt, grade eight, "Snow Under the Stars," watercolor

Joan Gessner Award for Excellence in Watercolor: Kate Keery, grade 10, “Listen”

Honorable mentions: Skye Timothy, grade one, “I Like to Look for Rainbows,” colored pencil and pen; Brela Pavao, grade two, “Weird Tree,” watercolor; Sophie Quinn, grade three, “Cow Bells,” watercolor; Ryan Portalla, grade four, “Trees on a Ridge,” watercolor; Tyler C. Langlois, grade five, “Silly Kitty,” pastel; Rose Robinson, grade six, “Pomegranate Still Life,” watercolor; Chris Rassias, grade seven, “Church on a Snowy Evening,” watercolor; Max Faigen, grade eight, “Duck at Cashman,” photography; Helen Jones, grade nine, “A Great-Horned Owl Look,” watercolor; Sara Rodriguez Santos, grade 10, “Bailando Al Amanecer,” photography; Anna Quattrini, grade 11, “Lighthouse,” oil; Haley Collins, grade 12, “Nantucket Lighthouse,” oil