OLDSMAR — Photography was the sole focus of the city’s first art exhibition of 2020, “Oldsmar in Focus.”
And with more than 80 entries and several renowned judges critiquing the work, the juried exhibit was deemed a hit by organizers and participants.
Oldsmar’s arts coordinator, Lisa Schmid, said not only was she impressed with the number of submissions but also by the quality of the work.
“Most of the entries have an impact, even if it’s a personal impact,” Schmid said during the artists reception, held Feb. 4 at City Hall. “A perfect example is the first-place winner, Alicia Thacker, who was a unanimous selection for a photo of her daughter at a booth at the Oldsmar Flea Market. It’s a very simple image on the surface, but the judges felt it was very powerful and well-composed.”
Schmidt said she was equally impressed by the judges’ professionalism and eye for detail.
“The judges were amazing,” she said of the five-person panel that included longtime Tampa Bay Times photographer Douglas Clifford and renowned Photoshop guru, Scott Kelby. “They judged each one separately and each came at it from a different angle. It was so educational to see how they dissected each photo. I was very happy they were able to come to a unanimous decision on the first-place selection.”
Second place went to James Smith’s “One Last Sunset,” taken at Mobbly Bayou, while Hector Colon took third prize for his “Oldsmar Street Art,” outside the City Council Chambers.
Schmidt, who has overseen several innovative art projects in the past year, including a pop-up spray-art installation and a water conservation challenge, said there were so many excellent submissions to choose from they decided to select nine entries for honorable mention.
“I felt strongly about that,” she said. “I felt like more than just the top three deserved to be recognized.”
Several honorable mention winners who stuck around for the duration of the two-hour ceremony said they were impressed by the show, as well.
“I thought it was very well done and very inclusive,” said Palm Harbor photographer Lisa Sibley, a former Oldsmar resident who received an honorable mention for “Mrs. Finnegan’s Classroom.”
“It was free to enter, and they let the artists retain the rights and receive royalties from any the use of work, which is very rare,” said Sibley, who also praised Schmid for organizing the event.
“Lisa’s done a great job,” she said. “I was very impressed with how she presented the show.”
Dunedin photographer and digital media student Elizabeth Faubert said she was moved by many of the photos as soon as she saw them.
“I was impressed with the work when I walked in,” said Faubert, who submitted two entries and was recognized for her colorful “Thanksgiving Sunset.”
“It was a lot deeper than I thought it would be. Very emotional. I really didn’t expect it.” She pointed to fellow honorable mention winner Leela Moon’s “Honor and Glory,” a mesmerizing shot of Veteran’s Memorial Park at sunrise, as an example.
“It really moved me,” Faubert said.
Moon said she broke her typical sleep pattern to get the ideal lighting for the photo, which she shot with a curved lens. “I’m not a morning person at all and I had to get up very early to get down there in time to catch the sunrise,” she said. “But it was worth it.”
The ‘Oldsmar in Focus’ exhibition will be on display until the end of March at Oldsmar City Hall, at 100 State St. W.