The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 6th Annual Skies 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 6th Annual Skies Art Exhibition page for contact information.
Congratulations again to all the winners and thank you for sharing your talent with us.
Best in Show (Traditional) – Hunter Jay – “A MATTER OF FEELING” – acrylic on linen
Hunter Jay reveals the wonder of the hidden world around us. He focuses on the geometry of the composition; the way the elements are arranged on the canvas. Often he finds that this becomes more important than the actual subject matter. His work embraces an admiration of simplicity and evokes a contemplative and peaceful place.
An acrylic painter, Hunter credits his outlook largely to the 1940 Walt Disney animated film “Fantasia,” which he first saw as a child. The fantastical world on that screen impacted him. He found he was interested in the settings for the characters in the film more than the characters themselves. He wanted to live in the depths of that magical world.
To this day, that is what he captures on canvas. The mystery and the exotic qualities of his work make it identifiable, with saturated hues. You’ll see close-up views of botanic life, but the ocean and its refracted light seize his imagination as well. That childhood experience in the movie theatre continues to fascinate him to this day, and is why his colors are so intense, vibrant and saturated.
Largely self-taught as a fine artist, Hunter Jay has an innate sense of composition that aligns with his background in graphic design, contributing to the overall illustrative impact of his work.
To learn more about Hunter and to see more of his work, please visit his website.
Best in Show (Photography & Digital) – Mo Lin – “PINKY NIGHT” – digital art
I started painting since I was a kid in China. I learned a variety of painting techniques from after class art studios from elementary school to high school. But I couldn’t pursue the art path because my parents doubted the uncertainty of it. I went to engineering school then moved to US.
I picked up painting after graduate school in New York and sold a few pieces in random local markets. I currently live in LA and work on different types of arts in my spare time. I’m still trying to find my identity in painting so I’m doing a lot of experiments in my work.
I believe painting is the only path to show your own view of the world and how different objects reflect in your mind or wild dreams, as there’s no other way for the world to see it. I wish everybody could draw so the world could see billions of beautiful minds or weird ones.
To learn more about Mo and to see more of her work, please visit her Instagram.
Best in Show (3-Dimensional) – Karen Russo – “PEARLS OF WISDOM” – stoneware, underglaze, casein, acrylic
Karen Russo is a figurative sculptor who lives and works in the lush green foothills of western Oregon. She chooses clay as her primary medium because of its malleability, capacity for transformation, and direct connection to the earth.
As Karen sculpts, she allows each piece to unfold intuitively. The beauty of working in clay, is that she can continuously manipulate the form. It is a lively dance of adding and subtracting the material. Once the figure is established, it is cut into multiple sections, hollowed, compressed and reassembled. Karen then carves patterns and textures into the clay before it undergoes a slow bisque fire that can last a week or more. She uses underglazes, casein, and acrylic to lay imagery onto the surface. Her color palette echoes the places that inspire her; from the ocean to the forests, the desert to the mountains, of the extraordinary Pacific Northwest.
“In clay and paint, I work with paradoxical themes embodied in the maternal archetype and landscape. The resulting sculptures depict women that seem to originate from different geographical origins, but all of which explore the tensions of the feminine experience: strength and contemplation, hope and despair, vulnerability and resiliency. Through these ancestors so evocative of the precious earth from which they were formed, I hope to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in this beautiful and turbulent world.”
To learn more about Karen and to see more of her work, please visit her website.
2nd Place (Traditional) – Chris O’Dell-Ferguson – “ATLANTIC TEMPEST” – acrylic
Chris O’Dell-Ferguson was born and raised in a rural area; it was that lifestyle which gifted her with a love of nature, and all of its forms. It has been an inspiration that has led her on a lifelong artistic journey. She works in several different media, including acrylics, watercolors, mixed media, pastel painting, and several forms of sculpture.
Chris views her art as an extension of who she is, and what she has to say. It is her voice without speaking. When you see her work, she hopes that you will share in her love of the never ending exploration.
Chris has led many different workshops, and is currently an instructor in several different mediums. She enjoys guiding people on their creative journeys, in groups, and through private lessons. Along the way, Chris has been lucky enough to have participated in several local and national exhibitions, been published internationally; as well as, graciously accepted several awards. She also feels truly blessed to have gained several gallery representations, both locally and nationally.
To learn more about Chris and to see more of her work, please visit her website.
2nd Place (Photography & Digital) – Maureen Ravnik – “OUT OF TRAGEDY, RISES BEAUTY” – photography
Artist Biography: Maureen Ravnik was born and raised in Minnesota. She attended the University of Colorado to pursue a career in sales & marketing. Working and traveling a lot in that discipline opened her eyes to the wonders of the American west and reawakened childhood tendencies to creatively document her discoveries. She began making images of the American west in hopes of preserving the history, the culture, and the dreams that shaped the west.
Maureen has placed in the Audubon International Top 250, local, national, international juried photography exhibitions, monthly club competitions, and state park calendars. Her images have been selected for use by the City of Littleton, and National Geographic for publication, as well as several newspapers. She has co-authored 2 books that document the history of the second largest natural area in the country. Maureen has also served as a juror for the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Colorado. Artist Statement: My methods and techniques are largely self-taught. I love capturing scenery, wildlife, and exploring methods for interpreting what I see and experience along the way. I am deeply inspired by the work of Ansel Adams and Art Wolfe. My work is also derived from my imagination. My greatest satisfaction comes from taking the file from camera to computer to develop composites. The results reflect my personal feelings, beliefs, events, culture, etc. that are best expressed through artistic interpretations. My work is delivered in an array of styles that arc between realism, passionately abstract and doggedly figurative.
To learn more about Maureen and to see more of her work, please visit her website.
2nd Place (3-Dimensional) – Darko Stanic – “REBUS” – iron construction with nails, mirrors, soil
Darko Stanic was born in 1978 in Sarajevo. He graduated from the (Secondary) School for Applied Arts in 1997 in Sarajevo. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Department of Sculpture, in 2002 as the valedictorian of his class. He received his MFA in 2008. He has been member of the BH Association of Fine Artists (ULUBIH) since 2002. He is currently teaching at the Department of Sculpture, Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. He is an awarded artist (24 international awards) who participated in international biennials, arts festivals, and exhibited independently and with other artists.
To learn more about Darko and to see more of his work, please visit his website.
3rd Place (Traditional) – SMYLIE (Barry Smylie) – “ROUGH ROAD” – acrylic on stretched canvas
Smylie was born in 1948. In 1965 he became a hand press art apprentice lithography printer. 1967 attended art school until 1971 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. He went on his journey and accomplished a Master’s Chop and became a publisher. In 1993 he changed media to acrylic painting. He has exhibited worldwide as a printmaker, animator, game designer, and painter. He has won numerous awards. His work is represented in many collections internationally.
To learn more about SMYLIE, please visit his website.
3rd Place (Photography & Digital) – Barbara Mierau-Klein – “MILKY WAY” – 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 learn more about Barbara please visit her website.
3rd Place (3-Dimensional) – Taylor Craig Ceramics – “PASSAGE” – ceramic
Taylor was raised on a family farm in Beatrice, Nebraska where she was greatly influenced in the arts through her high school art teacher. To fulfill her dream in becoming an art teacher she graduated Doane University with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree with a Graphic Design Minor in the spring of 2019. Immediately, she continued her education with the Doane Graduate program and received her teaching endorsement in Art. In the fall of 2020 she began teaching 6-12 Art at Raymond Central and completed her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction through the Doane Graduate Program. In the spring of 2022 she was accepted into the MFA program at Fort Hays State University where she will focus in ceramics and graduate in the spring of 2026.
To learn more about Taylor or to see more of his work, please visit his website.
4th Place (Traditional) – Kathleen Grace Bennett – “A NEW DAY” – oil
Kathleen Grace Bennett is an artist with a passion for painting skies. Specializing in coastal landscapes, Kathleen enjoys capturing nature’s infinite beauty. As a member of Oil Painters of America, Newburyport Art Association, Haverhill Art Association, NOA Gallery and Cloud Appreciation Society, her paintings have displayed in national juried shows as well as a special appearance in the State House Capital in Massachusetts.
To learn more about Kathleen and to see more of her work, please visit her website.
4th Place (Photography & Digital) – Kevin Keeling – “IMAGINE YOURSELF” – digital photography
Kevin Keeling is an Artist, Writer, and Photographer. He is also a Professional Human; Half-Life, long-term adult, accumulating mass and gravity, annually. He has been a Freelance Designer and Artist, producing logos, marketing images for clients as well as creating original content for consumption since 2010. He tends to work in digital mediums for his more illustrative work, while working with traditional and digital photography. As of late, he has been concentrating more on his own work and imagery rather than client driven production work.
To learn more about Kevin and to see more of his work, please visit his website.
5th Place (Traditional) – Lisa Herrington – “LAYERS” – oil on canvas
Lisa Herrington is best known for her colorful striking imagery that evokes raw emotion within the viewer. Her use of vibrant color draws you into the deeper realm from which her work is derived. Her goal is to connect with the viewer on a higher and more spiritual level and bring about contemplation of things beyond the immediate material world. Many of Lisa’s works include the human form, not in a literal and realistic manner, but to represent the nonphysical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
Lisa is a native Houstonian and honors graduate from the Art Institute of Houston. She began producing works for exhibits in local Houston galleries in 2002. Her work has been commissioned by Houston Attorney Firms, Realtors and Oil Companies as well as private collectors over the years.
Lisa is also a drummer/percussionist in a local band called Soul Fixx who is known to perform at many of her art exhibits. In 2008 she began teaching art at a private school and a few years later after school art lessons at a few private studios across Houston. Now she is teaching private and group lessons at her studio in Humble, TX.
Lisa’s Statement: My work is a physical representation of the beauty of our energy and the strength of the human spirit. My hope is that the viewer will take a moment to contemplate something beyond our physical world and ourselves.
To learn more about Lisa and to see more of her work, please visit her website.
5th Place (Photography & Digital) – John H Diephouse – “NEW MEXICO VIRGA” – photograph
I am a primarily self-taught photographer who migrated from film to digital photography about fifteen years ago. After retiring from a professional management career, I have more actively explored the technical and creative sides of this media. I am attracted to a wide variety of subjects ranging from natural landscapes, botanicals and wildlife to images that provide either abstract expression or social commentary.
I am interested in sharing images that evoke a story of some kind. Images may be simply documentary, reflect a sense of time and place, or resonate on a more abstract level of color, shape or form. Others provoke an indefinable question that does not readily yield answers without further study and reflection.
Most often I am drawn back to images created while wandering through the back roads and small towns of the upper Midwest. These images of architecture, commerce and social life often reflect a mixture of nostalgia and a changing set of forces that shape life in the heartlands.
I have exhibited widely and have earned recognition in local, regional, and national exhibitions. My photographs are also included in several corporate and private collections.
To learn more about John and to see more of his work, he can be reached via his Email.
Fusion Art, LLC
Santa Fe, NM