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Three Rhode Island students took home top honors in Sen. Jack Reed’s High School Arts Competition, an annual contest that seeks to recognize and encourage talented artistic high schoolers throughout the state. 

Domingo Pablo Gutierrez, a senior from Mount Pleasant High School, won this year’s top prize with his work “Still Life,” which was created with graphite and colored pencil. Gutierrez’s work will be displayed in Reed’s Washington, D.C. office next year. 

Other winners included Emma Naughton, a Lincoln High School senior, and Alaina Minarik, a North Kingstown High School sophomore, who earned second and third place, respectively.

While Naughton’s piece, “Ducks Are Worth Their Weight,” was created using charcoal, Minarik’s “Portrait of a Dog” was done with chalk pastels.  

Their artwork will be displayed in Reed’s Cranston and Providence offices, respectively, for the next year.

After all submitted works of art were on display at the Warwick Mall, Reed hosted a special reception for all participating students, art teachers, school officials and judges last week, congratulating everyone involved. All three top winners received a ribbon, a gift certificate from the mall and custom framing of their work from Providence Picture Frame and Dryden Gallery.

The three winners were chosen by a panel of expert judges that included David DePetrillo of the Providence Art Club, Marta Martínez of the RI Latino Arts Association, and Judy Salvadore of the Wickford Art Association (WAA).

On Tuesday, Salvadore said that judges decided the winners after walking around the gallery, perusing all of the submissions before making their choices. 

“What we do is we all get there at the same time and spend 20 minutes just walking around, looking at the art, and we each start picking pieces that strike us, that we feel are the top couple pieces,” she said. “Then we separate them from everything else and we talk about them, their strengths, what we like about them.”

But this year, she said, the three judges were in sync when it came to deciding the winners, with all of them picking the same pieces of work. 

“We were laughing about it–this year, the three top winners, it just kind of happened. We all sort of picked them,” she explained. “In the past couple of years, there’s been back and forth. We all want each of us to have one of the top three be one of ours, but this year, we all picked the same top three. It just worked out very easily this year.” 

“All three of them, they really know their craft,” she continued. “For all three of them, the skill that they show in the medium that they’re using, all three of them are very, very talented.” 

Salvadore, who has judged the competition for three years in a row, said that she loves participating in the event because it grants her the opportunity to work with students. 

“Kids just look at things differently than adults, so that’s why I really like it,” she continued, adding that Naughton also won a scholarship in a WAA competition earlier this year, which the association will be exhibiting in the summer.  

She also said that Reed was equally “thrilled” to be working with student artists, especially those creating such “high-level artwork.”

“He’s always thrilled with the amount of work that’s entered and the high level of artwork that’s entered,” Salvadore said. “The reception’s really nice because all of their families come and their friends come. It’s very supportive of the students.” 

And Reed, who has hosted the competition for 29 years, said he was proud to showcase the students’ work, along with the work of teachers and mentors that encouraged them along the way. 

“Each year, I’m proud to showcase the creative talents of young Rhode Islanders, as well as the art of teachers and mentors who help encourage, inspire, and nurture their artistic gifts,” said Reed.  

“I want to particularly congratulate Domingo, Emma, and Alaina for winning this year’s competition,” he continued.  “Thank you to all the students and teachers who participated and made this competition a success.”

Honorable mention awards were given to six students, including Andrew Flaherty, a senior at La Salle Academy; Brooke Frizzle, a freshman at North Kingstown High School; Kashton Fielding, a junior at Pilgrim High School; Olivia Massotti, a junior at Rocky Hill School; and Jacqueline Pratt and Maggie Rodgers, a junior and senior at South Kingstown High School.

Jonathon Guzman, a senior at Rogers High School, was also chosen as the “Senator Reed staff pick” for his work “Newport Bridge.”

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