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Two Gainesville teenagers earn top artistic awards
Gainesville High School and Riverside Military Academy students compete in national contest
Riverside Military Academy Cadet James Graham used acrylic paints in his piece titled “Destroyer.” He won an honorable mention for it in the 2013 National Young Marine Artist Search Competition.

The 2013 National Young Marine Artist Search Competition awards ceremony may have been in San Diego, Calif., but its focus was on Northeast Georgia.

All four placing competitors in the American Society of Marine Artists’s biggest competition were from Georgia, including two from Gainesville high schools.

Charles Calkins won the top prize with his copper sculpture“Red Snapper in Motion.” The Gainesville High School senior will receive a $500 prize along with an award plaque and certificate.

James Graham, a Riverside Military Academy junior, took home an honorable mention for his entry, “Destroyer.” The cadet sergeant created a 12-inch-by-16-inch acrylic painting and will receive $100 and an award certificate

Both teens competed with 17 other young artists from Texas, Oregon and Washington state in the inaugural competition.

“They looked at the 17 images,” said Anne Brodie Hill, the ASMA South Representative. “They both picked the same ones for each award, without even talking to each other. So that makes it even more special.”

Neither of the teens were able to attend the national award ceremony in San Diego because of their busy schedules. However, the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville will honor Calkins and Graham at an upcoming presentation next month.

Two other Georgia students rounded out the winning art pieces. First runner-up was Ha Truong of Suwanee. The North Gwinnett High School senior entered a watercolor painting titled “A Day at the Beach.” The second runner-up was Olivia Park of Johns Creek. The Northview High School senior entered a watercolor painting titled “And Again, I Turn Back to the Light.”

“It thrilled me that we could have all the awards won by students in Georgia,” Hill said. “It was very exciting, very exciting for me, that my Georgia kids won these awards.”

The ASMA was founded in 1978, with the mission of promoting and encouraging marine art. The organization continues to hold competitions to keep interest alive among the developing marine artist community while also emphasizing the importance of “maritime history.”