Sunday, January 21, 2024

Scholastic Art Awards then and now

That Gold Key should be Gold. And the print is illegible except for my signature, the important part.

Thursday, we received an email from the New Mexico School of the Arts in Santa Fe. In the email Cindy Montoya, the president of the prestigious high school, touted its “Unprecedented Wins in the New Mexico Scholastic Art Awards.” We are longtime supporters of the school whose programs extend beyond the visual arts to include theatre, dance, writing, music and now film. The school’s jazz orchestra will blow your mind and its ballet graduates have been awarded scholarships to Julliard in recent years.

Montoya continues that “60 artworks created by visual arts students have earned esteemed Scholastic Art Awards-the nation’s most enduring recognition program for emerging artists. Since its inception in 1923, the Scholastic Art Awards have played a pivotal role in nurturing the artistic skills of countless high school students." 

Among the 60 awards were 14 Gold Key awards, 16 Silver Awards and 30 Honorable Mentions. Congratulations to the school and all the winners.

The rest of the story if only you could read it.

My connection with the Scholastic Art Awards goes back 59 years. And, no, it wasn’t as a student artist. I was the director of the Arizona Regional Scholastic Art Awards in 1965. I was 23. And it was the first time I talked myself into a gig for which I had scant qualifications beyond knowing some artists.. The show had 4,000 submissions and we hung, I’m guessing, 600 of them. Happily, the show which was held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix was a grand success. The capper was a dinner for the judges in a private dining room at the toney Arizona Biltmore which I hosted along with the event’s sponsor. Peggy was at my side. I was completely out of my depth and loved every minute of it. “I could get used to this” I thought.

The exhibition was sponsored by Valley National Bank, Arizona’s biggest. I remember the bank’s slogan when I began organizing the show the year before. It read “A billion of more in ’64.’’ That was a gaudy target in those days. The bank’s founder and chairman, Walter Bimson, an imposing figure to my man-child self, was a major supporter of the arts as was reflected in the bank’s sponsorship of the event.

Amazingly, I still have a copy of the awards handout dated February 27-March 6, 1965. Unless I’m hallucinating, I designed the single fold relic. Then Friday, I spilled black coffee on the poor dear. The damage was not fatal so I’m including two pathetic smart phone images.

As I was reading the text in the flyer, I was grabbed by this arcane factoid. From the Gold Key winners, the jury sent 100, count ‘em, 100 Blue Ribbon Finalists from Arizona to the National High School Exhibit in New York City. This I remind you was in 1965. With inflation at 2% that would be 1,000 today.

Take that NMSA.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

It is very exciting to hear about the students at the New Mexico School for the Arts and their Unprecedented Wins in the NM Scholastic Arts Awards. Thanks to you and Peggy for your long-standing support of these endeavors. Would love to hear their jazz orchestra at some point.

Your judging of the over 4,000 submissions in thee 1965 Arizona Scholastic Regional Art Awards must have been an exciting event, followed by a phenomenal dining experience at the Arizona Biltmore. Life would never be the same for you foodies!

I am glad to have finally gotten into the comment section of your site, as clicking on "continue reading" which normally takes me to your original blog page for comments, only produced a lengthy advert for hearing aids. What a world! Regardless, thanks for the blog, Steve!