COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Three Rivers High School student Amanda Damewood’s piece “Lady Death” was awarded Best In Show in the 36th annual Celebration of the Visual Arts art show at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers Tuesday, May 3, which featured pieces from across the Three Rivers Community Schools district and Immaculate Conception Catholic School. Damewood received a $150 cash prize and a ribbon as Best In Show.

All-school art show opens up at Carnegie

THREE RIVERS — Over 1,000 pieces of art created by students at Three Rivers Community Schools and Immaculate Conception Catholic School are on display this month at the Carnegie Center for the Arts.

Opened on May 3, the 36th annual Celebration of the Visual Arts showcases the artistic talents of TRCS and Immaculate Conception students. Numerous paintings, drawings, and sculptures from every school in the area are hung up around seemingly every inch of wall in the building’s galleries.

This year’s event was the first time since 2019 the show had been at full strength, with no show in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a pared-down show held in 2021 consisting of art from grades 5-12.

“It’s wonderful to be back at full strength with this,” Carnegie Center Director Donna Grubbs said. “This is just wonderful, and we’re so thankful for the sponsors, teachers, everybody. It’s nice to have the students back at the Carnegie.”

The opening event held on May 3 drew hundreds of kids and families to the Carnegie to view the art on display. Each student in grades K-5 had at least one piece displayed, while art teachers at Three Rivers Middle School and Three Rivers High School brought selected pieces to the show.

Many of the art teachers present at the opening event said it was great to have the show back in full, and praised the students for their artistic skills.

“This feels great to have it back. It was a long two years to not have this, and it’s just such a good community event to bring people together to show off what our kids are capable of,” elementary art teacher Judson Stemaly said. “To have a facility like the Carnegie to house enough artwork like this, that’s a very unique thing for Three Rivers and a great tradition to have.”

“We’ve missed being together, and last year just having fifth grade in person didn’t feel the same because the building kind of felt empty,” elementary art teacher Gretchen Milton said. “It’s a very special thing. A lot of places will just pick select pieces, whereas here we have a chance for every elementary student to have at least one piece on display. We’re very fortunate for that.”

The event also featured a ceremony where a number of awards for the high school art on display were given out. Best of Show for the high school art went to Amanda Damewood for her piece, “Lady Death,” receiving a ribbon and a $150 cash prize. First Place went to Anna Ives and her piece, “Goddess Series,” receiving a ribbon, a $100 cash prize, and having the artwork framed and residing at the Carnegie. A Second Place ribbon and a $50 cash prize went to Victoria Jaeger for her piece “Honor Portraits,” while a Third Place ribbon and $25 cash prize went to Victoria Orozco for her piece, “Horror.”

Other awards included the Principal’s Awards, which went to Kennady Cottingham and Madelyn O’Hara with their pieces being permanently housed at Three Rivers High School; the Three Rivers Education Association awards, which went to Kami Bishop for “Relief Sculpture,” Gwen Lyczynski for “Stacking Bowls” and Trinity Underwood for “Bright Future Lantern;” and numerous other awards sponsored by teachers, organizations and local businesses.

Richard Jordan, the director of the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan and the judge for 29 of the high school show’s awards, had nothing but praise for the art on display – not just the high school’s art, but the elementary schools’ too.

“I was very, very impressed. So much of the art, there’s a huge amount of originality, even in paintings or drawings that had the same theme. I was attracted to the ones that took that theme and then did something extra with it,” Jordan said. “Just going into the younger people’s drawings and paintings, as you go down in grades, you see more and more freedom because they don’t know all the art rules, and it’s beautiful. It’s really nice.”

TRHS art teacher Chelsea Kelley said she was very proud of all her students and that it was nice to see her students’ artwork awarded and appreciated.

“I tell them at the beginning of the year they have a chance to think about what they’re creating beforehand and know that it’s going to be seen by the public at some point. It’s a chance for them to feel more professional as an artist,” Kelley said. “They all should be very proud of themselves. They’ve had a rough two years, and it’s nice to have them back maybe to normal somewhat and celebrating their hard work.”

Overall, middle school art teacher Eric Harshberger put it best on how special the all-school art show is for everyone involved.

“It’s hard to put into words how great this is for the students to show off their talents,” Harshberger said. “Thinking back to their age, I was never this good, so it’s just really awesome to see this.”

The show runs until Thursday May 26. The Carnegie Center is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or

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