Jacksonville teen wins first place, Best of Show in student art contest

By Angela Spencer Published May 8, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Angela Spencer

Jacksonville High School senior Joseph Gomez has won several awards for his artwork. His favorite medium is charcoal, which he often uses to draw cars.

JACKSONVILLE — Joseph Gomez started drawing in middle school, but the Jacksonville High School senior has kept with it and was recently awarded first place and Best of Show in the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife of Arkansas 2014 Student Art Contest for his colored-pencil drawing Common Beauty.

“I wanted to find something that symbolized Arkansas,” he said of his drawing. The piece includes a mockingbird on a pine branch with an apple blossom — the state bird, state tree and state flower.

Ethan Nahté, creative director of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, said the theme of the show became Wildlife of Arkansas four years ago, and the idea behind the theme works in hand with the No Child Left Indoors campaign.

“Besides keeping art in the schools, getting the students to pay attention to their surroundings instead of just their electronics was something we felt was important,” Nahté said.

The show has grown significantly over the past several years as teachers and students have learned about the opportunity. This year, there were 1,110 entries.

“The show is practically doubling every year,” Nahté said.

Gomez has been drawing for a while, and he has taken art almost every year in his time at Jacksonville High School. In ninth grade, he was in a basic art class, and in 10th grade, he moved on to crafts and pottery. The next year he did not take any art classes, but he jumped right back in for his senior year.

“I got back into art and got into competitions,” he said. “I like to draw because I get to express my talent.”

The competition scene has been good for Gomez, who recently brought home three awards at the Arkansas Young Artist Association state art competition and has one work that will hang in the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock in the Young Arkansas Artists Exhibit.

Gomez said his teacher Marvin Lindley has helped him grow as an artist.

“He motivates everyone in that class,” Gomez said. “He likes to show off how good we are.”

Next year, Gomez plans to attend Arkansas State University-Beebe on a full-ride scholarship. He will study liberal arts and is considering going into psychology.

“It interests me a lot how the brain works,” he said.

Although he may not make a career of it, Gomez said, art isn’t out of his system. He plans to continue doing artwork on the side.

One thing Gomez said he has learned from art is to wait until the finished product is visible before judging something.

“Nothing looks good until it’s done,” he said. “I am going to keep that same perspective in college, too.”

Gomez’s drawing Common Beauty will be on display at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock through May 29. The Wildlife of Arkansas exhibit will then be at the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro from Jun 1-26, at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith from June 29 to July 25 and at the Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff from July 27 to Aug. 22. The traveling exhibit will end at the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s Annual Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet on Aug. 23.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

Zoned Editions Staff Writer Angela Spencer can be reached at 501-244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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