Shining the spotlight on talented young artists

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Mick Harris installs Best of Show artwork from the Kurt Lattimer Aspiring Artist Award program at 58 E. High St., London. A mural by the late Kurt Lattimer adorns the opposite side of the building.

(Posted Oct. 17, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The west-facing side of the building at 58 E. High St. in London has a new look that brings the story behind the east-facing side full circle.

A few weeks ago, Mick Harris, who owns the building, helped to install five pieces of artwork on the building’s west-facing exterior. The pieces are reproductions of Best of Show winners in the Kurt Lattimer Aspiring Artist Award program.

The program honors local artist Kurt Lattimer who created the London community mural that adorns the opposite side of the building. Kurt passed away in 2017 at the age of 27.

With the support of friends and loved ones, Harris and Kurt’s mother, Kim Lattimer Reeder, established the Aspiring Artist Award program five years ago to give young artists a chance to shine.

“It feels wonderful to have the artwork up on the building,” Harris said about the recent installation. “It means so much to Kim, and it means so much to me, as well, to honor Kurt that way and to recognize the kids.”

The Aspiring Artist Award contest is open to high school seniors in Madison County. The theme is the same each year: “What I Dream of for My Future.”

“Each of the pieces of artwork are so different, yet they are all the same. All kids have dreams, and every kid is unique,” Harris said.

Ever since moving to London many years ago, Reeder, an artist herself, has been impressed by the number of artistic, creative people living in the area.

“There’s a wealth of talent here. I think sharing that with the community is important, especially for youth. It has to be inspirational to them,” she said.

Harris agrees.

“Seeing kids produce art the way they do is amazing. The talent–it’s hidden. We want to encourage kids to follow their passions, follow their dreams. We want kids to have an outlet and an award for continuing that passion. Don’t ever hide it!” he said.

The students’ artwork will remain on display as long as there is room on the building’s wall. Harris estimates he has space for another five pieces–meaning another five years’ worth of contest winners–before it will be necessary to rotate out the older pieces or come up with another solution.

Harris is in the process of selling the building to the current occupants, Eddie and Victoria Vallery, owners of Vallery’s Farmhouse Bakery.

“They know the passion I had for Kurt’s mural. They worked their drive-through around it. And they were great about us wanting to put the kids’ artwork on the other side,” he said.

Reeder is thrilled to have the student artwork on display for the community to see and to see her son’s memory honored.

“A man came up and asked why I was taking photos during the installation (of the artwork),” she said. “I was telling him about this award and before I even got to the point of telling him about Kurt, he asked me, ‘Kurt Lattimer?’ I was floored. Kurt had tattooed this man. So cool! Kurt is very much present.”

Art contest
The 6th Annual Kurt Lattimer Aspiring Artist Award contest is open to high school seniors from Madison County who are slated to graduate in 2023. Students in public, private or home school are invited to enter.

The contest commemorates the life of Kurt Lattimer, an artist and 2008 London High School graduate who passed away in 2017. The contest is designed to challenge and inspire local youths to cultivate and share their artistic talent, as well as promote the arts in Madison County.

The theme for the contest is “What I Dream of for My Future.” A prize of $500 will go to the first-place finishers in each of the following categories: paintings and drawings; digital art; and stained glass, mosaics and ceramics. The entrant whose work is named overall Best of Show will receive $1,000.

Entries are due by noon on Jan. 21. Winners will be announced and all entries will be displayed during the Madison County Arts Council’s Young Artist Showcase on Jan. 22 at First United Methodist Church of London. Art then will be displayed at London City Hall in February.

More information about entering the competition can be found at aspiringartistaward.com.

Prizes are funded through donations. Donations may be sent to: Madison County Arts Council, P.O. Box 122, London, OH 43140. Please mark the memo line with “KLAAA.”

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