Self-portrait wins first Aspiring Artist prize

Mackenzie Hudock, a Tolles Career and Technical Center student, won the first annual Aspiring Artist Award with this self portrait created with acrylic paint. The theme was “What are your dreams for the future?” Hudock said the mask in the painting signifies her dream discovery process. The award was established in memory of Kurt Lattimer, a local artist who passed away last year.

(Posted Feb. 7, 2018)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

The dreams of many are on display at Gallery on High in London.

They are there thanks, in part, to an inspired wall.

Shortly after business owners Mick and Natalie Harris purchased the property at 58 E. High St. in London, they realized the building’s drab, east-facing wall needed a pick-me-up.

“It was just hideous,” Mick said.

At first, the couple contemplated hiring an outside contractor to paint a mural to give the wall some life but changed their minds almost immediately after meeting local artist Kurt Lattimer.

“I explained to him that I wanted the mural to convey the spirit of the community, and within 10 minutes he sketched out something amazing from my rambling verbiage,” Mick said.

As Kurt got to work on the 80-foot wall, he set out to visually express the hopes and dreams of the past, present and potential of the community in which he grew up.

Kurt didn’t get to see the mural in its completed state. The 2008 London High School graduate died on May 9, 2017. An interaction of medications caused his heart to fail. He was 27.

On the way home from Kurt’s memorial service, Kurt’s mother, Kim Lattimer-Reeder, began to dream of ways she could honor his life and memory. In particular, she wanted her son’s passion for art to inspire others. Her stepson, Cody Reeder, suggested they come up with a scholarship or something along that vein.

It stuck in her mind.

The same thought was on the minds of Mick and Natalie Harris.

“His death hit us hard,” said Mick, who had become close friends with Kurt.

The Harrises dreamed of helping others in Kurt’s memory.

When they met with Kim and her husband, Tony Reeder, later that spring, Mick brought up the idea of establishing a contest for Madison County high school students who had a passion for art.

Kim said she was all for it.

“I thought it was a wonderful way to honor Kurt,” she said.

The Harrises put up a $1,000 cash prize for the winner of the first Aspiring Artist Award. The contest theme was “What are your dreams for the future?”

Nine area students submitted entries in everything from graphite to watercolor to acrylic paint. Three local artists and members of the London Visual Arts Guild judged the contest, which the organizers hope will become an annual event.

Friends and relatives of the late Kurt Lattimer honored his memory and his passion for art by establishing an award for Madison County high school seniors. Entries are on display through February at Gallery on High. The winner, Mackenzie Hudock (third from the left), was announced on Feb. 2 during the exhibit’s opening reception. Congratulating Hudock are (from left) contest founders Mick Harris, Natalie Harris, Kim Lattimer-Reeder and Tony Reeder.

Guild member and contest judge Marjorie Foulk said she and her fellow judges were awed by the students’ artwork.

“I was impressed by the sensitivity and the depth shown by these artists,” she said.

Gavin Pozy, a student at London High School, drew a portrait of his future family–his child waking him and his wife on a Saturday morning.

Skylar Rice, also a London student, painted a picture of her hands on a sewing machine, representing her future in fashion design at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

Aubrey Lilly, a student at Madison-Plains, painted a scene of herself chained underwater, waiting to break free.

Lily Virjee, also a student at Madison-Plains, drew a picture of her future self, traveling around the country in a refurbished school bus with a bunch of friends and cats.

The winning entry was an acrylic painting by Mackenzie Hudock, an 18-year-old student at Tolles Career and Technical Center.

Her painting, a reimagined senior portrait, shows her with a mask partially covering her face. She said the mask represents her dreams of discovering unknown aspects of herself as a person and an artist.

“There is always something you can learn,” she said.

All of the contest entries are on display through Feb. 28 at Gallery on High.

Kim said Kurt would have loved this.

“He was always encouraging other artists to go after their own dreams,” she said.

Gallery on High, is located at 5 E. High St. in London. Hours are: Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Guild president Sandy Fox said the exhibit also is open on Tuesdays 4-8 p.m. when the Guild hosts open studio time next door at Studio 7. For details, visit www.londonvisualartsguild.org.

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