YOUNGSTOWN - Gary Taneri's first foray into doing oil paintings on wood instead of canvas won first prize at the 76th Area Artist Annual Exhibition.
Taneri, 51, a civil engineer from Warren who has a passion for oil painting and teaching art, was extremely happy that he won first place in this year's exhibition.
"I've been in the show quite a few times," Taneri said. "The first time I entered it was in 1981. This was the first time I've won the first-place prize."
Ron Powell of Gustavus examines some of the artwork created by local artists on display at the 76th Area Artists Annual Exhibition, which will run through Feb. 23 at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. Photo by Raymond L. Smith
The 36-inch-by-72-inch painting, "Nicole Benoit," is one of several paintings of a New York-based ballet dancer and actress on display.
"I just entered the latest one I painted," Taneri, of Warren, said. "I just recently finished it."
Nearly 350 pieces from artists living in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer and Ashtabula counties were entered. The work was narrowed to about 140 pieces and judged by Al Bright, a retired Youngstown State University art professor and artist.
Best in Show: Christopher Duncan, Beliot, Recognition for Body of Work
First Prize: Gary Taneri, Warren, "Nicole Benoit"
Second: Sean Butler, Canfield, "Stately Trio"
Third: William Danielson, Youngstown, "Boucherie Walk By"
Juror's Special Mention: Susan Jacobs, Cortland, Body of Work
Juror's Special Mention: Mark Scheuring, Salem, "October Storm"
"This competition shows there are many great and talented local artists that are passionate about their works," Bright said. "Many are inspired by what they see and experience in their communities."
The work highlighted during the museum's exhibition is eclectic, showing a diversity of tastes and styles.
"There are paintings, drawings, mixed art, photography and other art forms.
The artwork will be display at Youngstown's Butler Institute of American Art through Feb. 23.
Susan Jacobs, a retired art teacher from the Mathews School District, was not able to attend the announcement of winners on Sunday afternoon because of health reason, so she was shocked when a friend brought her a Juror's Special Mention award to her home.
"It was a pleasant surprise," Jacobs said. "I go to the exhibition and the awards ceremony every year. I wish I could have gone this year."
Jacobs believes she was recognized for "Without Prejudice,'' a creation of five masks of a single woman's face, but she is depicted as a different race in each of the masks.
"It is a mask of of a very pretty girl," Jacobs said. "I wanted to do something different."
Jacobs said in recent years she has been doing a lot of mixed media and three dimensional pieces.
"I'm big on promoting local artists," she said. "I'm always encouraging people to find ways to show and sell their artwork. I encourage artists to set up their own websites so people can see what they do."
Gustavus resident Ron Powell walked around the showcase of artist admiring all of the work.
"I like critiquing the work," Powell said. "I like both the older styles of art and more modern forms."
He particularly pointed out paintings ''Heiress'' and ''Vast'' by Aaron Powell of Youngstown. ''Vast'' was an honorable mention in the award category.
Niles resident Thomas Harwood was an honorable mention for a watercolor of Lanterman's Mill's which shows the mill from the water level. He also has a second watercolor, "Choices," in the exhibition.
"With 'Lanterman's Mill,' I wanted to show it from a perspective that most people do not see," Harwood said. ''The painting was done in early fall, so the leaves are still green but are just beginning to change color."
Lori Caldwell, whose candid photograph of a row of Amish women looking at a buggy race, shows their multi-colored dresses and simple white frocks.
"When I saw them, I thought of Easter eggs," she said. "I had to take their picture."
The Champion resident is having her work displayed in the Butler Institute.
Caldwell says she gets the most enjoyment taking candid photographs, when people are not reacting to the camera.
"I like the natural feel," Caldwell said.
Boardman resident John Harris entered an oil painting, ''Femininity,'' which shows the creative power and curves of women.
Sisters Nancy and Rebecca Hawkins, both of Columbiana County, each has one painting on display. Rebecca, a retiree, has a pastel showing Mill Creek Park. She credits her sister for her exploration into art.
"No, it is my sister that inspires me," responded Nancy Hawkins.
During warmer weather weekend, the sisters meet with other area artists to do live paintings of what they see.