By JEN CARDINES
The walls inside the Historic Gura Building were wallpapered with the work of local artists, and Southington photographers, painters, and more gathered to see which would be crowned champion.
For years, the Southington Arts and Crafts Association (SACA) contestants had to drive to neighboring towns to hear the verdict for the local contests. On Sunday, April 9, champions were rightfully crowned in the center of town, just off the town green.
The Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) opened its doors this year to host SACA’s yearly show in their brand new facility. Last year, SACA artists had to travel to a Meriden facility to view their work.
SACA kicked off their exhibit downtown on Sunday afternoon with an open house, a party, and an awards ceremony for featured artists. Throughout the month of April, entries for the 26th annual SACA juried show will remain on display in the Gura Building.
Jim Laurino was the juror for the 2017 submissions, and on Sunday his champions were announced at the SACA reception. Laurino began painting as a teenager, and he now has numerous private collections, exhibiting in galleries and events throughout the Northeast. In 2016, he received top prize at the Hudson Valley, N.Y. Plein Air Competition.
SACA president Robert Rembish presented the awards to artists in 11 different categories, and he said that Laurino had his work cut out for him based on the quality of this year’s submissions.
“I think he was perplexed by the quality of the work,” Rembish said to the crowd. “He had a very difficult time picking out the award winners.”
SACA board member Linda DeLuca won Best in Show for her “Mystic Sunset” piece. Best in Oil went to Neil Scollan—who was last year’s Best in Show winner—for his “Plaza Marconi Vernazza painting.
Other awards went to Renald Fecteau (Best in Watercolor), Heidi Lanzl-Kaine (Best in Acrylic), Angela Orsene (Best in Pastel) and Robert Marsalla (Best in Photography).
In addition, Tony Manning received the Jerry’s Artarama award; Patricia Corbett received the Wayne Stanforth Award; Jane White took home the Wholesale Frames award; and Karen Moulton received the Joel Whitney Framer award. Thomas Mayer got the Dick Blick award.
The awards are named after businesses or individuals that donated funds to SACA to make the prizes possible.
While Rae Robinson wasn’t among the award recipients, crowds formed around her painting throughout the afternoon. “Gennie and Mother” is a painting of a mother holding her infant that Robinson did 45 years ago in 1972. The baby in the painting, Gennie Tedesco, is Robinson’s friend and first art student.
Standing in front of the painting, Tedesco pointed to the child and said, “That baby is 90 years old now.”
At the start of their 50-year friendship, Robinson took Tedesco’s family portrait and re-created it in a mixed media painting.
It was the oldest piece in the juried show gallery and a focal point in their relationship.
“From then on, the rest was history,” Robinson said.
All submissions, including the contest winners, will remain on display at the Gura Building through April 28, and they can be viewed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the SoCCA facility at the intersection of Main Street and Berlin Avenue.
SACA meets monthly at The Orchards in Southington. Their goal is to promote the arts, and they generate funding to present a $1000 scholarship each year to a local high school student that will pursue a career in art education.
For more information, visit www.southingtonartsandcrafts.com or call (860) 621-6552.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by KELLY MAY DEL DEBBIO