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Worth a thousand words

Published 5:01am Sunday, May 19, 2013
This year's Artist of the Year candidates from left: Nicole "Coco" Lipari, Reno Stehlik, Taylor Miland and Darrion Hunt
This year’s Artist of the Year candidates from left: Nicole “Coco” Lipari, Reno Stehlik, Taylor Miland and Darrion Hunt

On Wednesday art will once again take center stage at Austin High School when art department hosts their annual Artist of the Year assembly in Knowlton Auditorium.

Started by former AHS art teacher Bruce Loeschen 20 years ago, this event has taken on a life of its own, building to an event that encompasses not only the art-minded kids of the school, but everybody.

The event is a recognition not only of those that will be vying for the biggest prize — Artist of the Year — but also those students who won awards through judging at two art shows conducted through the year.

“It’s something to keep people involved,” said co-organizer and art teacher Barry Brobeck. “It’s a real mix of students receiving awards and that’s cool.”

Four students though are looking at at the top honor which will include a scholarship and of course recognition from their peers and student body. Those four are Nicole “CoCo“ Lipari, Reno Stehlik, Darrion Hunt and Taylor Miland.

And if you think the student body is looking forward to the show, then wait until you talk to the Artist of the Year candidates.

“It’s exciting,” Hunt said. “I’ve been waiting for this since ninth-grade, ever since I saw the first assembly.”

Artist of the Year candidates are chosen through a fairly formal process that includes formal applications, statements about themselves and about their art. The art teachers — Brobeck, Jake Levison and Lisa Beschnett — judge the students on all the above and pick the finalists.

Then the process turns to the finalists, often times, waiting until the absolute last minute to pick the winner. In that way, it’s a reflection of how strong the arts are at Austin High School.

“It’s not only visual arts, but fine arts and the arts in general, “ Brobeck said. “The high school is really strong in the arts. Not many schools our size have three full-time art teachers. It’s a really good program.”

For the students who are up for the honor, the moment hasn’t fully hit them yet.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Stehlik said. “I’ve just been waiting the entire year and now it’s here.”

The students themselves are light-hearted about the assembly even with the amount of work that goes into it including picking a theme and of course their artist videos, one of the most anticipated parts of the show.

Each student puts together roughly a two to three minute video that can reflect themselves or what they do as an artist. It’s style can range through a myriad of visual representations.

That’s also a major part of the show and sometimes, can get ahead of the students.

“I have like three days to work on it, but it will work out,” said a casual Miland.

“That’s an artist’s mind,” Lipari chipped in.

Art and the art assembly at the school also brings a variety of students together.

“We don’t always hang out in the same group, but we’re still friends,” Hunt said.

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by the others.

“It’s cool,” Lipari said. “Our backgrounds vary but we have one thing in common.”

The organization behind the art show takes one more step each year and that’s keeping everything as secret as possible up until the very end and if past shows are any indication, this year will be no different.

“I’ve always expected a winner, but it’s always surprised me,” Hunt said.

This year’s show will be at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Knowlton Auditorium.

Meet the artists


Nicole Lipari

Speciality: Drawing, straight pencil with an added interest in photography Post high school education: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“I’m excited for everybody to see my video.”

Darrion Hunt

Darrion Hunt

Speciality: Pen, ink and painting. Post high school education: Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

“I was so excited. It was the biggest honor except being accepted to college.”

Taylor Miland

Speciality: Portraits, colored pencils. Post high school education: University of Sioux Falls and then transferring to the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.

Taylor Miland

“Whatever comes easiest, but is still a challenge and is not stressful.”

Reno Stehlik

Speciality: Realistic things. A lot of detail with pencil, colored pencil and ink. Post high school education: Looking to apply to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.


“I’m always looking for a challenge.”

This year’s theme

One of the biggest elements to the Artist of the Year art assembly is the theme which in the past has included Star Wars and psycho circus themes, but has always been kept a secret until the time of the show to add to the fun.

This year is no different, but while the four Artist of the Year candidates are trying to keep it secret, they were willing to give everybody three hints as to what it will be.

1. Green, brown and black.

2. Mysterious noises.

3. Fly home ducks.

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