LIMA — The 26th Kewpee High School Art Invitational is a much-anticipated display of up-and-coming area high school artists, and several Putnam County students’ works were juried into the show. The exhibit opened on February 28 and runs through April 12 in the Ellen Nelson Gallery of ArtSpace, in Lima. Artists must be enrolled in grades 9-12 within Lima’s surrounding counties. Work must be original and completed in the last two years and not shown previously at ArtSpace/Lima. Students may enter one piece in each of the nine categories: painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, jewelry, and digital media.

“This is the first year O-G has participated in the Kewpee Invitational,” Ottawa-Glandorf art teacher Deneika Miller related, “It is a very competitive, juried show representing schools all throughout northwest Ohio. It is my understanding that only a fraction of the art submitted actually makes it in the exhibition.”

Art teachers act as self-jurors of their students’ work to decide which pieces will be entered into the show. Because a work is entered, it does not mean it will make the exhibit.

“Actually, we took 10 pieces to the show but only six made the show,” Pandora-Gilboa art teacher Mark Williams explained. “I think that most teachers know the quality of this show and only bring their best work because the competition is so close just to get in, let alone win an award.”

Fort Jennings art teacher Joy Noreiga described the qualities she considered when selecting art pieces for the invitational.

“I look not only for craftsmanship and technique but also the thought, emotion, and the meaning behind the artwork. That is what I saw in Kaylynn’s (Noreiga) work — the story behind the art. This is how artists communicate — through art instead of a written language. However, the title of the artwork can also make the work more intriguing,” she said.

This year’s jurors were Associate Professor of Art at the University of Findlay, Ed Corle, and Anna Talei Fisher, an ArtSpace teacher.

Corle commented, “It (Kewpee Invitational) reflects good teaching, community support, and high school students who love to work in art. It reflects, in some cases, hours of labor in one piece, and also works created from ideas, captured in seconds.” First, second, and third place awards were given in each category in addition to a Best of Show Award.

Tess Paniagua, an Ottawa-Glandorf senior, won second place in the category of painting, for her work, “Sing-Pop-Art,” which was a Pop Art-style portrayal of recording artists in every color of the rainbow.

“It was pretty neat to be in a professional art gallery setting,” Paniagua declared. “This was my first time to enter anything in a professional setting. I usually just have my art in the local and county art shows.”

Pandora-Gilboa students Brian Schneck and Ben Weaver were also awarded second place for their pieces. Schneck piece, “Mystical Orb,” was entered into the ceramics category, while Weaver’s “Old Man Woody,” was entered in the drawing category.

Kaylynn Noreiga is no stranger to the Kewpee Inviational. The Fort Jennings High School Senior has had some of her work displayed at the same exhibit, as well as in an art show in Van Wert. Noriega’s mixed media piece, entitled “Letting Go,” features a lady dressed in a kimono, which reflects her love of Japanese culture.

“The blue background and the black around the edges feels like a glow,” she explained. “My goal was that when people viewed it, they would get the feeling she is in the air.”

Kaylynn was contacted to have “Letting Go” displayed at the Child Advocacy Center in Lima. The budding artist will donate it as a permanent display at the center at the end of the year.

Juror Anna Talei Fisher concluded, “The selection of the awards was challenging. Students who were juried into the show should be very proud of their accomplishment. The artists selected for awards showed strength in technique and originality. Their art gave the viewer an emotional connection. I feel this is just the beginning for these award-winning artists.”


Putnam County students whose art is on exhibit at the Kewpee High School Art Invitational include: Travis Nienberg- photography (O-G) Katie Fuetter- photography (O-G) Carrie Morris- ceramics (P-G) Alex Osborn- ceramics (P-G) Addison Diller- ceramics (P-G) Jenna Sigler- ceramics (P-G) Tess Paniagua-painting (O-G) Kaylynn Noreiga-mixed media (FJ) Brian Schneck-ceramics (P-G) Ben Weaver-drawing (P-G)