Renowned artist and Texas Spirit Art Show Judge John Cook took ample time selecting the winners of the art show Saturday night at the Old Post Office Museum and Art Center.


“It was larger than we ever had,” said Marlene Edwards, director of OPOMAC. “This is the most entries we have had. There is such a variety of subjects and a lot of new and repeat artists.”


Each piece emanated the essence of the subject, scenery or still life that the artist was trying to catch, and according to Edwards, Cook had a difficult time selecting the winners for the show.


“It took about an hour-and-a-half going through each piece,” she said. “I really liked the way he judged the show, he was very meticulous.”


Edwards said that Cook wrote critiques on each piece and numbered them as he went along. Then he would go back and judge them in the order that he wrote each critique.


“I think he did a great job because it was very difficult,” Edwards said. “He said that if he had his work in this show, he’s not sure if he would have won anything, and that says a lot coming from him.”


Diana De Santis of Whitestone, New York, won the Texas Spirit Art Show Committee Award Best of Show for her pastel, “Occupy Wall Street.” The piece displays the side profile of a man who was involved in the Wall Street protests of 2011.


“He came in when (protesters) were meeting and having a big to-do, and he was part of it,” De Santis said. “He looked so ragged and so forlorn, and I didn’t know where he was coming from or what he was doing. Suddenly his eyes started to sparkle, and he started talking about what (the protesters) were going to do, what his motive was to be there.”

First-time TSAS entrant Richard Prather of Garland won the Riley Wealth Management Award of Merit for his oil-based landscape piece,  Hoodoos.
First-time TSAS entrant Richard Prather of Garland won the Riley Wealth Management Award of Merit for his oil-based landscape piece, Hoodoos. (Julianne Murrah)


She asked him if he would pose and he agreed.


“I found him very interesting and not as much as a radical as I thought it would be,” she said. “So, that’s why I painted him.”


De Santis has been painting for about 18 years and has created about 400 pieces of art. This was her first time entering the Texas Spirit Art Show.


First-time TSAS entrant Richard Prather of Garland won the Riley Wealth Management Award of Merit for his oil-based landscape piece, “Hoodoos.” The piece captured the still image of the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico.

“Hoodoos are those little tent-shaped figures out there, created by erosion over thousands of years,” Prather said. “It’s just a really awesome park to visit and is a neat thing. I do landscapes mostly, and that park is a little more unique because of those formations.”


Prather has painted for about 30 years.


“I’ve painted miles and miles of canvas,” he chuckled.


Although he couldn’t make the award ceremony, Prather was happy to win the merit award.

“When I discovered the Texas Spirit Art Show, I saw the caliber of what was there thought it would be a good show to shoot for,” he said. “I’m thrilled to win the award, much less be juried into it.”


Paul Walsh of Roff, Oklahoma, won the Marjorie Kirtley First Place Award for his acrylic painting “One Last Bale.” 


Walsh said that the hay bale is more than meets the eye.


Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.