The Star Tribune's "Oh, You Turkey" art contest winners take judges back to their (recent ) youth.
Seventeen-year-old Anthony Lockhart made a great case for using people his age as judges of the Star Tribune's "Oh, You Turkey" art contest.
"We all remember where we were artistically at that age," said Lockhart, as he and five fellow Perpich Center Arts High School students sifted through thousands of entries to a James Brown soundtrack.
Being high-schoolers helped them gauge a couple of the criteria, such as passion and authenticity -- or not ("like the 2-year-old using a hot-glue gun that we threw out," he said). Being art students meant they could adeptly assess the concept, execution, creativity and "wow" factor.
After some painstaking winnowing and more than a few spirited discussions, the judges landed on these winners:
0-4: Ben Martin, 2 1/2, of Eagan, using feathers, watercolors and some "monster" eyeballs.
5-8: Calli Maskel, 7, of Rosemount, with a disco motif and stained-glass background with some nifty colored-pencil work.
9-12: Danny Walsh, 9, of St. Louis Park, with a striking African-influenced foreground and layered, multi-hued colors framing it.
They emerged from submissions that included celebrity depictions (Elvis' bouffant 'do, Taylor Swift, Bob Marley and, of course, Justin Bieber) and materials ranging from acorns and M&Ms to bar codes, painted duct tape and real hair.
"We like funky ideas, people's different twists," Lockhart said, "and also you can tell how much time people put into it. Like you'll see a super-intricate design with the turkey, but then they don't spend much time coloring it. You also look for really good shading that's not just color."
Perhaps foremost, said fellow judge Asmae Bint, "we're looking for controlled passion."
Sometimes the passion came in the form of notes accompanying the artworks. One jotting read: "Thank you for keeping my grandson out of the kitchen."
Another indicated that the artist had done the job despite a broken arm. "That would be good even without the broken arm," judge Roisen Granlund said.
Walsh clearly used both arms -- and a nimble mind -- in concocting the 9-12 winner.
"It's beautiful," judge Xiaoye Jiang said, "and it's original, it's not something that the kid had seen before." Added compatriot Alli Livingston: "I love that he gave a nod to Thanksgiving while working in the African design."
Livingston was also a big fan of Maskel's arrestingly colorful concoction. "There's definitely a wow factor," Livingston said, "and I love that it tells a story."
Turns out the dazzling stained-glass backdrop came about almost by happenstance.
"It was more Christmas-y at first," said artist Maskel. "I was doing the disco ball, and then there were these shades of glass that kind of came in.
The hardest part? "Making sure I stayed within the lines."
Such exactitude is not expected of the 4-and-under set. Still, Marissa Martin, Ben's mom, said he "did little sections at a time over the days.
"When he was putting the eyes on, he said it looked like a monster. But when he finished it, he thought it was pretty."
So did the judges.
"Looking at that," Livingston said, "made me feel like I was 2 1/2."
Bill Ward • 612-673-7643