Students win local art contest

Katie Eder

Six Villanova students received awards at a college art contest sponsored by Trattoria San Nicola, an Italian restaurant in Paoli, on March 8.

Courtney Reed, a junior communication and secondary education major, was named the fine arts winner and awarded a $500 check and a free dinner for four at the restaurant.

Yazid El Hilali, a freshman civil engineer and art history minor, and Alana Nolan, a senior political science major, were awarded second and third place respectively in the college category with cash prizes.

The three students to receive honorable mentions were Jessica Williams, Amanda Shultz and Ellen Dougherty. All of the students were given a certificate and a medal in recognition of their works of art.

The students were recognized at a dessert reception attended by U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach, artist Anita McGinn-Natali, and contest judges and artists Karl Klingelhoeffer and Ardyth Sobyak.

“This year marked the restaurant’s second annual Main Line area art contest,” Cristina Giannandrea said, who co-owns Trattoria San Nicola with Chef Vito Giannandrea, her husband. “Since the contest is new, we’ve only had about 25 college students enter the contest this year, all of whom attend Villanova.”

For their second art contest, the owners chose the theme of the works of the Macchiaoli, Italian impressionists who broke away from traditional Italian artwork by painting outdoors to incorporate natural light, shade and color in their pieces.

Contestants were asked to submit original artwork that depicted Italian scenes and reflected the impressionist works of the Macchiaoli.

“The goal of this year’s contest was to get students to do some research about the works of these artists within their art courses and then to paint an original piece based on their research,” Cristina said. “This allowed the contest to become more of an educational experience for the entrants.”

The winners were chosen based on how well they were able to capture the central components of Italian impressionist art in an original painting. All of their pieces are being displayed in the restaurant throughout March.

The students’ pieces were submitted by Christine Clay-Gorka, who is teaching two sections of a basic watercolor techniques course this semester. All six of the art contest winners are currently enrolled in this watercolor class.

The students’ latest pieces reflected different parts of Italian landscapes, which fit the requirements of the restaurant’s Main Line area art contest. Most of them would not even have known about the contest or, in some cases, their artistic talents without the help of their professor.

“Before this watercolor class, I had not taken an art class since seventh grade,” Reed said, who received first place for her colorful painting of houses overlooking water and mountains. “Winning this contest has inspired me to take more art classes this summer and check out some local art galleries around my hometown to get more of an idea of different kinds of artwork. Since I am majoring in secondary education, I might even consider pursuing art as a career in the future, but I might also want to look into it just as a fun hobby.”

Similarly, third-place winner Nolan, who painted a street-view of a building from a picture that she took while studying abroad in Florence, had also never taken a serious art class before.

However, two of the winners did have previous experience in art classes prior to the watercolor course.

Second-place winner El Hilali is pursuing a minor in art history because of his love of the historical aspects of art in different types of architecture.

Shultz took art during all of her four years of high school, and she had been looking forward to taking a college-level art class at Villanova.