4 Bears win Independent Schools Art awards

Hundreds of area high schoolers enter competition

A photo of a phone booth at night, black and white paint, and a challenge from Visual Arts Department Chair Walt Bartman: That is what Kevin Tsai '18 had when he sat down to put brush to canvas for his latest painting.

"Mr. Bartman wanted me to paint the whole thing using mostly different shades of black," Tsai said. "It was tough, but Mr. Bartman was great [throughout the process]. When there was a certain shade I needed, he would show me how to mix paints together to make the exact color."

Bartman and Tsai were so pleased with the result that Kevin entered the painting in April's Best of the Independent Schools Art Competition, and the work earned honorable mention in the painting category.

Tsai was not the only Landon student honored in the independently judged show, which draws hundreds of entries from one dozen D.C.-area high schools. Twenty-two Bears were among the 90 finalists, and Matt Brady '16 (1, pictured above) was awarded third place for ceramics, Michael Carr '18 (2) received honorable mention for photography, and Tyler McTague '16 (3) won third place for painting.

Tsai credits his teachers, including Bartman and Ricky Sears '99, with giving him the tools to complete his painting. Sears believes that Kevin's unique style — he paints with both a brush and a palette knife — and can-do attitude are the secret to his success.

"One of Kevin's strengths is his willingness to try things that might be difficult at first," Sears said. "His ability to concentrate and have a work ethic has showed him that results pay off over time. Kevin brings something unique to painting class, and I think the other guys notice it. He's able to eliminate distractions in the room and focus, and it has resulted in paintings that not only get recognized in competitions but also among his peers. They admire his work."

Bartman agreed and praised all of the Landon participants and their teachers for the hard work that made the competition a success. "I give [Landow Gallery curator] Aaron Brophy tremendous credit for his vision and his layout of the exhibit, I thank the Fathers Club for generously sponsoring the event, and I congratulate Michael Carter, Laura John, Ricky Sears and Aaron on the great job they did with their students," Bartman said. "What's great about the exhibit, and especially about it being at Landon, is that our guys get to see what other schools are doing. A lot of the other school's art teachers are telling me that we have become like the nucleus of the consortium. That is a great compliment, and I'd like to continue to have that reputation as we help our students move forward and thrive."

This year's Best of the Independent Schools Art Competition judge Gavin Glakas — a contemporary artist and portrait painter who hails from Bethesda — chose the work of 90 artists to be displayed as part of the tenth annual competition. Winners in each of five categories (painting, drawing, photography/digital art, ceramics/sculpture and textiles/mixed media) were announced during a reception at Landow Gallery April 24.

In addition to Landon's four award recipients, Glakas also selected the following Bears as finalists: Franco Abdala-Arata '16, Maleek Brown '17, Blake Dannenbaum '16, Deven Desai '18, Michael Dziak '17, Luke Glenn '16, Anton Golding '16, Bruce Han '19, Clayton Henschel '16, Matthew Lowrie '18, Jackson Powell '17, Luc Schermer '18, Will McClure '18, Brian Merkle '16, Harrison Muth '19, Mitchell Pan '17, Wesley Pan '16 and Bobby Ramkissoon '17.

Landon's Landow Gallery has hosted and the Landon Fathers Club has sponsored the event for the past 10 years.