Patriotism reigns during annual art awards day at high school

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 23, 2003

A giant Uncle Sam looms over winning students, creating the patriotic theme for this year's Austin High School Art Awards Day.

The event, which takes place next Friday, May 30, will feature a procession of artists of the week from throughout the year, individual category winners and the announcement of the Artist of the Year for 2003.

Students in the drawing and painting class at the school have been working on a 23 by 16-foot grid piece for the assembly. Each square inch of the piece is abstracted and placed onto the grid to create a whole picture.

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Art teacher Bruce Loeschen said working on the smaller parts gives students the confidence that bit by bit, they can create complex works.

"You put together the pieces, and lo and behold, there's the eyeball you couldn't make," he said.

He said the show is coming together nicely. Each category winner has selected a piece of music to play as they come to the stage for their award. Loeschen said the music is an odd variety and keeps the audience interested between awards.

"It's always a surprise what's going to be played for their music," he said.

The winning pieces were selected earlier this month and are still on display at the Oak Park Art Gallery.

Interspersed between category awards, audience members will watch videos created individually by the five candidates for the Artist of the Year. Each video is three or four minutes long and gives the candidates the chance to express themselves and what their art means to them. Loeschen said it is usually the most popular part of the program.

"In past performances, you could hear a pin drop," he said.

Towards the end, the Artist of the Year will be announced. This year's candidates are Mike Ashley, Leah Brandon, Jennifer Laskewitz, Jane Moldenhauer and Katie Vaith.

The winner will receive a minimum $500 scholarship. Each of the other candidates will receive a minimum $100 scholarship.

The candidates raised funds for the event by asking for donations from family, friends and local businesses. Any money left over is split up between the candidates and added to their scholarship awards.

Loeschen said the event is very important to the school.

"It's a celebration of kid's artistic spirits," he said. "We're always hearing negative things about kids, and this is a great way to celebrate the positive things they do."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at