Otero Arts Festival gives opportunities for recognition to students of the Lower Arkansas Valley

The 62nd Otero Arts Festival Awards on Thursday evening drew an enthusiastic audience of the students who won the awards along with their parents, grandparents, friends, and teachers from all over the Arkansas Valley. The mistress of ceremonies this year was Emily Litle, new head of the art department at Otero Junior College. Debbie Phillips of Otero Junior College managed the show, which was impressive this year. President Jim Rizzuto gave a few remarks, which are always entertaining, and picked out two pieces of art work he liked in particular for the President’s Award. Also presenting awards were Nancy Bennett and Julie Worley, representing the South East Colorado Creative Partnership. Also giving awards was the Arkansas Valley Fine Arts League.

In Creative Writing, the award for Best Overall Creative Book and Most Original Creative Book went to Chyann Robinson from La Junta High School.

Places in the most prestigious event - Senior Art Portfolios - were first, Haley Volanos of Swink, teacher Max Cordova; second, Marlene Garcia Araiza of Manzanola, teacher Crystal Cuckow; third, Unique Froese of Crowley County, teacher Tim Goettel; fourth, Kira Ozant of Crowley County; honorable mention, Allie Nidey of McClave, teacher Giget Brubaker.

The scholarship awards went to: Marlene Garcia Araiza of Manzanola, $3000 from Adams State and Colorado State University - Pueblo. Haley Volanos of Swink, $3000 CSU-Pueblo Scholarship. Selena Helmick of Swink, alternate for the CSU - Pueblo scholarship. Nigel Gronemeyer of Cheraw and Ethan Thayer, Marcos Sanchez, and Kira Ozant of Crowley County, full scholarships to Otero Junior College.

Before President Jim Rizzuto presented his President’s Choice Awards, he told of his lone venture into the art world. He tried to enter a paint-by-number clown in his La Junta High School art show, but was politely turned down. His choices were Allie Nidey of McClave for her painting, “Headdress,” and Marlene Garcia Araiza for her “Let There be Light.”

Art Department Chair Emily Litle, who comes from a small town in Illinois, said the Otero Arts Festival is a amazing opportunity for all the students in the Arkansas Valley. She complimented the teachers for their support and energy in bringing the best artwork of their students for all to see and for their guidance in instructing them.

The People’s Choice Award was announced at 8:30, after all the ballots had been counted. People’s Choice High School was Arianna Banister, 10th grade, Cheraw High School for her “Tsure Kame.” Her teacher is Jessica Turner.