5th Anniversary Art Exhibition Winning Artists

The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 5th Anniversary international online art exhibition.  Below are the biographies and/or artist’s statements along with the artist’s websites or emails.

To contact these artists directly for purchase inquiries or to see more of their work, please visit the 5th Anniversary Exhibition page for contact information.

Congratulations again to all the winners and thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Best in Show (Traditional) – Amy Rattner - "Deer Totem" – watercolor

Painting is a stepping off point into my imagination. Putting brush to paper is a meditation for me - a way to center my thoughts and feelings. Animals of all shapes and sizes have always been my passion and each piece begins with a deep admiration of the unique beauty and character of the creature I am painting. Other sources of inspiration include an animal's mythological or spiritual role in different tribal societies; the visual language associated with animals, cultures or places; a creature's role in the larger ecosystem; and a desire to experiment with different compositional elements. For example, the themes of Native American animal spirits and totems have informed many of my works. The symbolism of powerful animals such as the bear, owl, and eagle frequently helps me tell a larger story in my work. My primary goal with each piece is to capture the unique spirit and personality of an animal using a combination of color, line, patterns, symbols and texture. My finished pieces reflect my own interpretations of cultural and artistic styles that inspire me.

To see more of Amy’s work, please visit her website.

Best in Show (Photography & Digital) - Shelley Benjamin – “Metamorphosis" – digital photography

Shelley Benjamin, a resident of southeast Florida, is an award winning digital artist. She has been published in “Living the Photo Artistic Life”, Somerset Digital Studio and “Awake Photography magazines. Her work has received Best in Show, and top 10 in the “Fusion Art” online gallery and top 10, Honorable, Mention and Special Merit in the Light Space and Time Gallery. She has exhibited in group shows at the Louvre, the Cornell Museum, and Grounds for Sculpture.

Shelley received a BS in Textile Design from Cornell University. After a career as a textile designer and weaver, she became interested in mixed media, and ultimately, photography. Shelley’s experimentation and involvement with digital photography began after she purchased her first DSLR camera. During the learning process, she joined an international group of digital artists. With the advanced training, she was able to develop her skills, which has allowed her to transform her images to reflect her vision. The inspiration from the group opened up the possibilities of taking photos into a new realm.

She is motivated by the art she sees in museums and galleries. From the time she was young she has always been an avid museum visitor. Her background in weaving exposed her to the art of fine crafts and the masters in those fields. Shelley uses her photos as the foundation for a digital painterly approach, utilizing modern technology to enhance and transform the original image.

Drawing upon her textile design background, she imparts a tactile feeling to her work. She is inspired by color, reflections, light, the changing seasons, nature and architectural elements. Shelley is always searching for extraordinary visual imagery in very ordinary environments. Shelley states that her goal is to share the beauty around her and impart the uplifting feelings to the viewer that are the source of her inspiration.

To see more of Shelley’s work, please visit her website.

Best in Show (3 Dimensional) - Brian Mark - “Gray Mist” – Picasso marble

Biography: Born in Schenectady, New York, raised in Washington, D.C., I have been intrigued by art of all kinds for most of my life. By the time I entered college I, not knowing what I wanted to do, thought, and quickly abandoned, dentistry. Literature appealed to me and ultimately, I earned a PhD in English and taught English literature at university. While I was doing scholarly work on English literature, I began to feel a tug toward doing, not just intellectualizing about art.

My first artistic foray was in woodworking. After a while, I could not shake the impact Dylan Thomas’ poem, “In My Craft or Sullen Art” had on me. I kept feeling I was doing craft, not art, and I wanted more. A friend urged me to look seriously at stone sculpture as my art focus. I eventually went to his sculpting class, and as soon as I set foot in the studio and looked at the work the students were doing, I was hooked. That was 20 years ago. I have been joyfully doing stone sculpting from that date to now. Sculpting is something I simply cannot NOT do. It is a passion.

I create abstract sculptures. I do not strive to make statements with my art. Rather, I try to bring beauty into this world, and at the same time soothe my soul by fulfilling the creative process. I have been in several shows and look forward to continuing my love/work in stone.

Artist Statement: Nature is raw. Art is practiced. Each stone has its own language and I work to understand that language. Some of the learning comes from striving to listen to what each stone is saying. Each has a color, a shape, and a hidden beauty. While valuing that uniqueness, I strive to let my imagination fly free, in order build upon nature’s creation: blending raw nature with understanding the language of this stone. And, so begins the conversation between stone and sculptor.

When a stone selects me, I cannot know what striations, hues, density, faults, lie under the surface. As I begin chiseling and grinding, the stone talks to me, saying, “I have this special colored line running through me: preserve it.” Or, “slightly shift the angle of this or that curve.” Or, “work with me: together we can bring forth that special surprise, that new beauty never before seen.” The conversation continues until nature’s stone and my imagination marry and together say, “stop – our work is done.”

For me that conversation must lead to a sculpture that has movement, movement, movement. That movement is stone brought to life in a way never before seen.

To see more of Brian’s work, please visit his website.

2nd Place (Traditional) – Cher Pruys – “GirlFriends" – acrylic

“To take my inner visions and with my hands create a work of art for you the viewer....that is the ultimate in self-expression.”

Spending many hours at the conservatory of music in Regina, studying music and ballet, as well as being mesmerized by the painters and potters, also on campus, Cher was exposed to the world of the arts early.

Dedication, motivation and talent have seen this self- taught artist excel on her artistic journey. An attitude that limitations are only as limiting as one makes them enhanced her development with her chosen mediums, watercolor, acrylic and gouache. Her love of light, and how it dances off the objects it strikes, accompanied by her captivation with realism and adherence to fine detail has resulted in a style that is enjoyed, admired and appreciated by art lovers worldwide.

When she doesn’t have a paintbrush in hand, Cher can be found teaching piano and guitar, or working on a fused glass creation. Her desire to share her love of the arts is realized through the many hours she teaches, children and adults alike.

Cher says, “Art is such a positive experience just waiting to be realized. Every day is an opportunity to do what I love and follow my passion.”

To see more of Cher’s work, please visit her website.

2nd Place (Photography & Digital) - Katharine Philip – “Older Brothers First Flight" – digital cell phone image

Artist Katharine Philip was born in NYC and has spent most of her life in New Jersey. Her curiosity led her to the University of Michigan’s School Of Art, although she returned home in the summers to attend at the Art Students League in New York City. After teaching for two years in Leonia NJ, she earned an MFA from Pratt with a major in painting and a minor in sculpture. She also received a Master’s degree from Montclair University in New Jersey. After marrying a hometown boy, the couple moved to Barnegat Light, NJ to be near her husband’s job. They both spent many summers at the shore. Now, their child also has a special place in her heart for the ocean.

Most of Kathy’s married life has been spent in Montclair and Glen Ridge, N.J. Her art studio, located on the third floor of their house, is full of collections of seashells, twigs, antique tools and photos. She finds all kinds of things that inspire her during her walks around town and on her travels. Kathy has been heard commenting, “I like to think of my trips, even walks, as mini adventures.”

Katharine has worked as a teacher since she was 21 years old. Most of her 38 years were spent in Leonia, but she also taught at Scotch Plain-Fanwood High School, Stockton State College and The New Jersey Center for Visual Arts. Recently retired, Kathy discloses, “I’ve learned a great deal from teaching. It’s been good to me and I will miss seeing, helping and watching the kids’ progress. I’m a visual learner and my life has been enriched by communicating with other visual learners.”

One of the things Katharine does on a daily basis is her hour-long walk. Along the way she’ll often be found taking pictures. The photos serve as reference and inspiration for her art. She takes pictures of everything that interests her including fallen flower petals, mold, clouds, wildlife and steam coming off the road. Light makes ordinary objects extraordinary. Kathy finds light to be emotionally and physically important to her artwork. The quality of the light, the time of the day, its color and how it enhances and describes the texture of objects enthralls her.

Dorothy, In the Wizard of Oz said, “Everything you need is in your own backyard.”

“I love my backyard, the world around me and I love to travel and see the world from different vantage points and in a different light,” comments Kathy. Her travels have inspired many paintings. She hopes her art will create questions, contradictions, rapture and dissonance. The world is such a gift and so uniquely gorgeous, one just has to make art about it and join in the conversation.

To see more of Katharine’s work, please email her directly.

2nd Place (3 Dimensional) - Diana Fernández - “Curves of Time” – bronze sculpture

BRIEF BIO: Diana Fernandez is a recognized Guatemalan sculptor with 290 national and international exhibitions and 20 solo shows. The International Sculpture Center said she revitalizes alabaster with a contemporary language. She received the National School of Arts Unique Sculptor Award and the Guatemala Biennial Honorable Mention also the Tribute to her Sculptural Work by FUNSILEC, 2016. Also awarded with the Goya Award at the Barcelona Biennial in Spain and the Caravaggio International Award Experience in Rome, Italy. Additionally her sculptures appeared in the Euroairport Mega Screen in Basel, Switzerland. Curator Vittorio Sgarbi recognized her with the Milan International Art Award. In 2018, she participated in ARTROOMS London successfully and in Art projects New York 0.1. Also in MIRADAS INICIALES in Jorge Jurado Art Studio, Bogotá, Colombia and in 2019, she was awarded by ARTAVITA, and SAATCHI ART GALLERY, and many more.

STATEMENT: It is for me to recognize the wonders of Fusion Art and its 5th Anniversary. With a courage gained through experience, I work into my alabaster stones, revealing their secrets subdued, cloaked in the dusts of our Planet evolution, which is why I love stone sculpture. And my bronze sculptures are also a summary for the concept of art responsibility because are very durable, able to withstand the elements for many years when properly prepared. Finally, the ability to use corrosive materials to create a patina allows creating a vibrant coating, because bronze is an incredibly important historical art medium for sustainable sculpture. To develop cosmic visions in fiberglass, is to create new visions of outer space with inner material, that is why in fiberglass I developed Red Moons and many other possibilities and much more that sculpturally merge with color and shape in a different way of my other sculptures in alabaster and bronze, which also represent the universal experiences that surround us.

To see more of Diana’s work, please visit her website.

3rd Place (Traditional) – Kathy M Paulus - "I See You" – scratch art

Kathy Paulus resides in Moreno Valley, California. She considers herself a self-taught artist specializing in pastel work. She specializes in pet/wild animal portraits and still life subjects. She has done many commissioned animal portraits and enjoys the joy it brings to a devoted pet owner. She enjoys realism and the challenge to capture the real beauty in animals. She has a special love for horses and all wild cats. She also enjoys painting still life subjects. She also enjoys working with colored pencils.

She has been exploring scratch art and she became a member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artist in 2018. She alternates working with pastels and scratch work. She is an active member of the Redlands Art Association in Redlands, California and Yucaipa Vision Quest Art Association in Yucaipa, California. She is involved in the international group of artist and photographers, Paint My Photo. She is also involved in many online groups as well.

She enjoys teaching in workshops and sharing the knowledge she has obtained through the years in the area of pastels and scratch art. She enters many local and international art shows and has won many awards for her pastel work and Scratch art.

To see more of Kathy’s work, please visit her Facebook Page.

3rd Place (Photography & Digital) - Barbara Mierau-Klein – “Collage Portrait" – digital photo collage

Barbara Mierau-Klein is a digital artist recognized for her multi-layered, imaginative and colorful fine art images. A native of Germany, Barbara lives in the Washington, D.C. area but often travels the world as a passionate landscape and nature photographer since her teenage years. Much of Barbara’s work is highly stylized and focuses on beautiful moments and evocative moods across a wide range of subjects. The inspiration for her images comes from many sources, often her own nature photography, but also books, song lyrics, movies, and works of other artists, old masters as well as contemporary digital artists. Barbara’s work has been exhibited in a number of galleries in the US and Europe and has received numerous awards. Her images also appear regularly in international art magazines. Barbara is represented locally by Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, MD.

To see more of Barbara’s work, please visit her website.

3rd Place (3 Dimensional) - David Travis – “Sun 'n Sand Palm Springs” – acrylic on birch frame with lights

I've been making things all my life, building and painting as early as I can remember. In 2009, I decided to fully dedicate myself to creating art and what started as a hobby became a profession. Combining vibrant colors and graphics that genuinely stimulates people's emotions while projecting an optimistic sense of high energy and style is something I constantly strive for as an artist.

Mostly self-taught, the foundation of my work is based on color field and hard-edge painting known for its economy of form, fullness of color, impersonal execution, and smooth surface planes, I take a traditional approach to my projects combining and balancing the disciplines of design, construction, and carefully chosen colors.

Currently my work focuses utilizing acrylic polymers, and resin. Lines, geometric shapes, and a manipulation of color are used to create harmony. As light touches the surface, colors come alive and another level of depth appears.

To see more of David’s work, please visit his website.

4th Place (Traditional) – Kevin Hetzel – “William Virgil Barker" – oil on panel

Kevin Hetzel is an artist whose work attempts to challenge and restructure the Eurocentric tradition of portraiture and the notion of those that may be held in high regard. Through the investigation of historic cultural influences and genealogy, the fabric and interiority of an identity emerge. Based on the segmentation of social and economic status the defining characteristics of class become a means to describe an identity. It is through collaged bank statements, miscellaneous bills, and family photographs, in combination with various modes of depiction of charcoal and oil that his work exists. It becomes apparent the stronger historical account of financial history over family heritage. Through contextual ideas of recognition of the politicized propaganda that has been created of the individual, their body, and their identity, he seeks to depict the individual, the everyday person as a person. Each piece acts as a body representing the individuality of a body. Through laborious brushstrokes and tedious mark making, he connects with working class traditions of production. He becomes a body at work creating a body of work.

To see more of Kevin’s work, please visit his website.

4th Place (Photography & Digital) - Todd Dieringer – “Stay the Line" – digital photography

The world can seem a dark and scary place. I am cynical by nature. But, I have found optimism and patience in celebrating nature and beauty all around us with my photography.

I dabble in other media, including acrylic painting, scenic design for theatre, and costume jewelry design, but photography is the constant. There’s something magical to me in capturing a moment in time through the lens. In recent years, I’ve developed an interest in macro photography of flowers and plants. This practice of often immersing myself in nature and pausing to study the small details that comprise the great big beautiful wonder of earth, leads me to a state of greater calm and inspiration.

Often, my artistic endeavors cross media and influence each other. I’ve found that my interest in nature photography has been informing and inspiring my abstract painting practice and my interest in abstract art has led me to abstract manipulation of some of my photography subjects. Challenging myself to look at things differently and re-imagine realities.

My hope for my art is to spread that wonder at the beauty around us, whether it is conventional or unexpected subject matter. If my work causes someone to pause, see a new perspective or just smile, then my goal of sending a ripple of positivity has been successful.

To see more of Todd’s work, please visit his website.

4th Place (3 Dimensional) - Tony Gangitano – “Madonna Mio” – Italian Bardiglio gray marble

Tony received a Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture (University of Georgia). He practiced in New York City and traveled extensively prior to moving to San Diego, CA. Independent Art Study in many countries led Tony to Italy, where he worked as a sculptor for two years. He was employed by Sculptor Alberto Ricci in Rome, performed internships / independent study of stone carving at Studio Sem and bronze casting at Tommasi Foundry, both in Pietra Santa, Italy.

Upon returning to San Diego, he pursued a Masters of Art (SDSU). There carving stone and casting bronze took a back seat to less traditional materials, which he incorporated into more conceptual sculptures and site-specific installations.

Tony’s work has been exhibited in group shows, and featured artist shows in Europe and the United States. He is a creative, high energy, conceptually oriented Mixed Media Artist. His current work is fresh and exciting, incorporating thoughtful concepts and new materials.

Artist Statement: Fine Art is my first language. I was fortunate to be raised by a father, and grandfathers who were artist and creative craftsman, and a mother who excused my inherent eccentric behavior by saying in a Brooklyn accent, “Its ok…. he’s and Aaarrrtthhhist” . My work is about the integration of aesthetic form and emotional and intellectual content. The evolution of my art has progressed on confluent paths. Traditional figurative merged with abstract style in Stone, Bronze, Resin, Foam and often incorporating re-purposed mixed media elements. I employ archetypal images that communicate the essential commonalities of our human condition and experience. These images, combined with the juxtaposition and dialog created between figures, shapes, and materials, are aimed to provoke visual, visceral, and intellectual interaction with the viewer.

To see more of Tony’s work, please visit his website.

5th Place (Traditional) – Vladimir Luna – “Lumine Ignis" – sand, plaster, acrylic, paper, coffee on plywood

Originally, my artistic training was oriented towards music, I studied at the Superior School of Music in Durango, and then I entered the Conservatory of the Baja California Orchestra and to the Spanish-American Guitar Institute in Tijuana, México. Two years later, in 2003, I changed the music for painting in a self-taught way. I analyzed some techniques of materic painting with prominent painters in Baja California; one of them is Alvaro Blancarte.

Although I lean towards abstraction, sometimes I integrate figurative elements. I use sand, construction materials, clay, paper, metal, etc. I mix concrete adhesives and other glues so that the work does not deteriorate. I am a painter influenced by the Argentine and Spanish informalism, by the German neo-expressionism of Kiefer, Manuel Felguérez etc., on the other hand Bacon, Freud, Dix, among other postwar painters form a part of my conceptual influence from my beginnings until today. Generally, the themes of my work are literary, in the philosophical, historical, mythological fields, etc., constantly questioning the human condition.

To see more of Vladimir’s work, please visit his website.

5th Place (Photography & Digital) - Gareth Jones – “Unfurled" – digital artwork

Photography is Gareth’s artistic release and brings his imagination, vision and inquisitive mind to visual life following a career as a forensic scientist. Gareth’s explores bold abstracts or unique perspectives created from his original photographs or digital art and presents moments of beauty, quiet joy, or intrigue balanced with drawing attention to important issues. Everyone needs a break from today’s negative news and Gareth provides a breather from today’s stressed world whilst still bringing difficult issues into his art.

Gareth is convinced that balance is a critical life component and hopes his art will heal this disparate world through creative expressions, thoughtful moments and visual enjoyment. Gareth photographs anything that makes him stop, look, think, smile, or feel and puts his unique take on it. Gareth’s images offer something to everyone. His curiosity fuels exploration via the abstract and imaginative images that arise from his on-going search for images that “click”. Gareth touches people with his images and that is his inspiration.

To see more of Gareth’s work, please visit his website.

5th Place (3 Dimensional) - Marina Smelik – “Figure I” – ceramics

Typical expectation of ceramic pieces is to be strong, monolithic, tightly interconnected with very few openings. However, it doesn't have to be this way. It is possible to create weightless ceramics from paperclay.  When Marina creates new pieces, she loves to experiment with new materials. Paperclay is brilliant for use in sculptures; it is very flexible and forgiving. The addition of small amount of cellulose fibers allows making works light, delicate, and almost weightless. These qualities helped Marina to be more expressive and free in creativity.

To see more of Marina’s work, please visit her website.

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Palm Springs, CA 92263

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