Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Awards 29 Artists in the 27th Annual Festival of the Arts


The 27th Annual Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) Festival of the Arts, held Oct. 29 and 30 in the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin, featured exhibits of more than 100 artists from across the United States showcasing a diverse palette of artistic styles in nearly 20 different art mediums.

“Marking 27 years is a testament to how important the arts are to our community and a direct reflection of the talented participating artists, musicians, food vendors, board members and volunteers — all beautifully managed by our incredible festival producer Deb Nissley,” said MKAF CEO Demetrius Fuller.

Guest judges Anna Killian Cavnar, artist and adjunct faculty member at Pensacola State College, and Dan Taylor, artist and art advocate of Tallahassee, awarded 29 ribbons and cash prizes. Recognizing artists whose work reflected exceptional talent and craftsmanship, the judges awarded “Best in Show,” three Awards of Excellence, five Awards of Merit and 10 Judges’ Recognition Awards.

Best in Show artist Curtis Whitwam was born and raised in Tampa. A two-time Festival of the Arts winner, Whitman expresses his love for waterways and wildlife. “I love to share the feeling of deep connection to nature through watercolor paintings and underwater videos that I create to inspire everyone to get outside and appreciate the beauty and abundance of wild Florida,” he said.

The Best in Show adult winner of the Collaborative Art Exhibit was Julie Miles Gaffney of Santa Rosa Beach for her patriotic mixed media piece. The Best in Show student winner was Rayna Lowery from Fort Walton Beach High School. The Collaborative Art Exhibit features adults and students competing for the Special McIlroy Awards in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy, Destin’s First Lady, and an MKAF advocate and patron.

Artists honored were:
Best in Show ($2,000)
Curtis Whitwam, Tampa – Watercolor
Award of Excellence Winners ($850)
Valerie Walchek, Ocoee, Fla. – Ceramics
Michael Fagan, Pensacola – Mixed Media
Phillip Fiuza Lima, Marietta, Ga. – Wood
Award of Merit Winners ($450)
Roger & Renae Poer, Sylvan Springs, Ala. – Jewelry
Paul Shampine, Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Mixed Media
Marise Fransolino, Marietta, Ga. – Pottery
Kelly Rysavy, Tallahassee – Oil
Ancizar Marin, Pembroke Pines, Fla. – Sculpture
Judge’s Recognition Award Winners ($250)
Jeremy Serna, Brownwood, Texas – Watercolor