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Young artists' work shines at Quinlan Visual Arts Center
Gallery to display and judge pieces for annual Visual Arts Showcase
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Youth Art Month and Visual Arts Showcase reception
When: Opening reception 5:30-7 p.m. March 18
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
Cost: Free
More info: www.quinlanartscenter.org

Students with an artistic prowess and desire to pursue a college education have a shot at earning scholarship money through the Visual Arts Showcase.

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville, the annual contest will begin with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 18 at Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville. At the free event, students will be recognized for their work and a few will be selected to receive money for their college education.

“We give nine scholarships out per year. We have given 85 out to date, which is almost $200,000 worth of scholarships,” said Kelly Lee, the Visual Arts Chair of the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville. “We give away scholarships to kids to go to any college that they choose.”

The winners of the contest receive up to $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third place.

“It’s a good scholarship and it’s a good amount to help go toward college education,” Lee said.

But the money is not the only perk. Winners advance to a statewide competition.

“(They) have the opportunity to compete on the state level with the state Kiwanis board where they have the same competition to get additional college money,” Lee said.

The contest is held in conjunction with the Quinlan, which sponsors Youth Art Month. Quinlan displays the students’ artwork at the gallery in Gainesville for a month and host the competition, Lee said.

“The Quinlan has been a partner with us pretty much from the beginning,” Lee said. “They find the judges and have a reception for the students. They have the judging actually go for a much wider variety of ages than the actually scholarship program goes toward just to encourage the artists in our school systems to pursue their talents.”

The Kiwanis Club, however, is the main sponsor since its mission is to help children of the world.

“When we were trying to think of ways we could help the children, a scholarship program was thought of, especially when we lost one of our longtime members, Charles Thurmond,” Lee said. “He loved high school students, he loved education and he was kind of our entertainer for this club. He was always up front leading songs and stuff like that, so we thought this was a fitting way to remember him and partner our mission with remembering somebody who was such a big part of our club for many years.”

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