Today at a reception for the top 15 student submissions, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced the winners of the Congressional Art Contest from the Ninth District.  Jonathan Bachus of Yelm was awarded first place for his linoleum block print titled “Matt,” second place went to Kandis Fries of Spanaway for her watercolor “Washington’s Coastline” and Yelm’s Kourtnee Vanneman received third place for her “Iguana bi Night” linoleum.

“It is always wonderful to see the art and creativity of the students of the Ninth District.  The Congressional Art Contest allows us to show off their talents to the rest of the county and to encourage them to strive for even greater heights with their art,” Congressman Adam Smith said.

Every year for the last 21 years, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have held art competitions in their Congressional districts.  Members bring the winning piece from their district back to Washington, D.C. to be displayed in a corridor of the U.S. Capitol.  

This year, Congressman Smith convened a judging panel consisting of Benjii Bittle, member of the Tacoma Arts Commission, Neil Watson, chief curator of the Museum of Glass, Miriam Barnett, visual artist and chair of the WA State Arts Commission, Marilyn Mahoney, visual artist and member of Tacoma Art Commission and Michael Johnson, visual artist professor at the University of Puget Sound and member of Tacoma Art Commission.

In addition to having his submission displayed at the U.S. Capitol, first place winner Jonathan Bachus will be flown to Washington, D.C. compliments of Southwest Airlines to participate in the opening of the 2002 Congressional exhibition.  In the past, representatives of the arts community participating in the opening celebration have included Tom Cruise, Dean Cain, Billy Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker.  Jonathan will also receive a $12,000 scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design, as well as a year’s membership to both the Seattle and Tacoma Art Museums.  His art teacher, Gordon Kells-Murphy, will receive free admission for their class to the Tacoma Art Museum.  Mr. Kells-Murphy is also the teacher for third place winner Kourtnee Vanneman.

Second place winner Kandis Fries and third place winner Kourtnee Vanneman will have their pieces exhibited in Congressman Smith’s district office for one year after the event, where visitors from throughout the Ninth District will be able to view the art.  Both artists will also receive a year’s membership to the Seattle and Tacoma Art Museums.  The top 15 submissions will be exhibited at the Washington State History Museum from May 7 through May 13.