FLORIDA's FINEST Winners Announced: First Prize is Awarded to Sarasota Artist Jana Millstone

FLORIDA's FINEST Winners Announced: First Prize is Awarded to Sarasota Artist Jana Millstone

FLORIDA's FINEST Winners Announced: First Prize is Awarded to Sarasota Artist Jana Millstone"Fire," a painting by Sarasota artist Jana Millstone, has taken first prize at Art Center Sarasota's "Florida's Finest," an annual exhibition of works by Florida artists. The second prize winner is Raymond Lawler for "The Band Played On." Third prize went to Nathan Beard for "Exit Music #58 (The Effects of Passing through One Another"). Merit awards were given to Lynn Foskett for "Stacked" and Mike Hanlon for " Michael Gruber."

Special recognition awards were presented to Julie Ross, Leslie Neumann, Michael Decker, BranDon Richards, and Kathy Simon-McDonald. Prize winners received $1,500 for first prize; $1,000 for second prize; $500 for third prize; $250 for merit awards; and $100 for special recognitions. "Florida's Finest" is on display through August 11, at Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota. For more information, call 941-365-2032 or visit www.artsarasota.org.

"Florida's Finest" is part of an annual series designed to showcase the wide-ranging talents of Florida-based artists, and includes two- and three-dimensional works in a variety of media. R. Lynn Whitelaw, the founding director and curator of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College, juried this year's exhibition, which was installed in all four of the center's galleries. Whitelaw says that "we're witnessing a blossoming of the visual arts in Florida. This exhibition clearly demonstrates the rich variety of talents our state is home to."

He says he selected "Fire" by Jana Millstone for the highest award because of its "enigmatic, thought-provoking message" and "originality of design." The work is part of a series called "Veils," in which Millstone explores issues of tolerance and free will using images of women in burqas and niqabs. "I use the veil as a visual metaphor for multiple perspectives," says Millstone, adding that the series portrays "oppressed women who live under fundamentalist regimes. My work is often about the downtrodden, especially women, whose lives are affected by societies that destroy freedoms we hold dear."

According to Lisa Berger, Art Center Sarasota's director, "Florida's Finest" has earned a statewide reputation as a preeminent exhibition.

"This exhibition gives visitors a taste of the diverse artistic mediums and enormous talent throughout the state of Florida." says Berger. She notes that the exhibition's off-season timing provides cultural tourists a motive to include Sarasota in their summer vacation plans. Berger adds that the exhibition's substantial awards attract top artists from around the state. "Florida's Finest" is funded, in part, by the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues.

For more information about Art Center Sarasota, call 941-365-2032 or visit www.artsarasota.org.