Driftless Area Arts Festival Winner

Prize-winning artists were honored during ceremonies Saturday and Sunday at the Driftless Area Art Festival in Soldiers Grove.  Young artists exhibited their works in the Youth Art tent, which featured the KidsArt Gallery for elementary students and the Teen Art Gallery for alder kids. Eighty-five professional artists from across the Driftless region brought a wide variety of visual art including painting, sculpture, and wood, metal and fiber art.

From over 100 pieces, paintings, drawings and multi-media, displayed in the Youth Art tent, seven elementary school students were awarded blue ribbons by a team of professional artists.

In the KidsArt Gallery, ribbons were awarded in grade categories. They included,  from grades K-2, Grace Griggs, Prairie View school. Her art teacher is Meg Buchner. Another Prairie View student of Meg Buchner, in the grades 3-5 category, was Brooklyn Hooverson. From grades 5-8, the winner was Jaycee Sondry of DeSoto Elementary.  CarissaBrudos is her art teacher.  Blue ribbon winner in a new category, 3-D art,  Audry Yaktin, 5th grade, is from Stoddard Elementary, and her art teacher is Meg Buchner.

In the Teen Art Gallery, Naomi Metz, North Crawford High School, was presented with a blue ribbon and a check for $75. Her art teacher was Michael DiPadova. A red ribbon and a check for $50 was presented to Brynn Sullivan of Kickapoo High School. Her teacher is Heather Martin.  A white ribbon and  a check for $25 went to Kyrie Crager of DeSoto High school. Her art teacher is Carissa Brudos.

Each student was presented a ribbon and a cash award.  Some of them had also received “My Favorite Artist” cards from kids who visited the Festival. And the winners’ art teachers each received certificates for purchase of art at the Festival.

Nine schools in the Driftless region participated, along with four individuals who entered their works independently.

“We will continue to encourage school art programs as well as individual young artists to submit their works,” said Jane Holzhauer, co-director of the Youth Art tent program. “It’s good for young artists to be able to show their work and be part of the Festival.” And co-director Jamee Stanley encouraged art teachers to begin planning ahead for participation in 2023. “As the school year progresses there are going to be pieces that deserve area-wide recognition. We hope to see many of these works next year.”

Among professional artists, three awards were made. A jury of artists selected three of the professional artists for ribbons and cash awards. Named Best of Show, John Craig was honored for his giclée prints and collages, described as “continuing to push the envelope and develop his style that is fun, engaging and well composed.” The $500 award is sponsored by J Company Interior Design, now Gallery 804. of Lacrosse

Merit awards were won by Jovy Rockey of Winona, Minnesota  and Ken and Michelle Workowski of Viola, WI. Jurors described Rockey as a master of her craft” and called her jewelry creations an elegant and professional collection of  bold designs. They called the Workowskis’ hickory baskets “well crafted pieces of functional art – always pushing the limits.” The $100 awards were sponsored by VIVA Gallery of Viroqua.

In balloting done throughout the weekend, Toby Skov of Nature Photography of Viola was voted the People’s Choice. He will receive a $100 prize sponsored by Viroqua’s VIVA Gallery. Skov will and be a featured artist there in upcoming months.

A Lifetime Achievement Award went to Bill Zierke of LaCrosse/Onalaska, for his 70-year career  creating paintings and sculptures focusing on barns and wildlife. “Bill has been a highlight of the Festival for many years,” said Lori Bekkum, Festival chairman, “and his works have brought joy to art lovers of all ages.”

The Festival’s major partners include People’s State Bank, The Richland Hospital and Clinics, Wisconsin Public Radio, The Village of Soldiers Grove, and Community Development Alternatives.