Palm Coast, FL (May 24, 2021) With dozens of entries into the Flagler County Art League’s virtual high school student art show across multiple mediums this year, it’s a vibrant collection of works that are as much a delight to the eye as the imagination.

Inviting the top three winners to show their work in a professional gallery, Lisette Otero-Lewis, gallerist for the Galleria D’Arte Palm Coast hosted a meet and greet with the young artists on Saturday, May 22nd.

Gallery owner Lisette Otero-Lewis included works by Flagler County students in the Art on the Plaza Spring Show, at the Galleria D’Arte Palm Coast.

Offering a behind the scenes look at the art industry beyond the paintbrush before interacting with gallery patrons, students were excited to see their works hung among the collections of established artists.

“I’m offering them an opportunity to show their work here. What I did was had their art work framed for them so that they could take it home,” said Lewis, a strong supporter of emerging young artists.

“Mostly I wanted to make sure we could showcase it as part of an ongoing show for this month which is the ‘Art on the Plaza Spring Show’, so they were able to experience being part of an overall show with other artists who are professionals or have been doing this for a long time,” she said.

Selected as the Best of Show “Beach Breeze” captured the hazy feel of beach life through the lens of talented Flagler Palm Coast High School junior, Brianna Aguiar. With a passion for photography, it was first learning the fundamentals of photography that has allowed her to grow as an artist.

“Film photography was the point of my area of concentration this year. I really wanted to replicate the look of film on the computer because film is definitely my favorite to work with but it’s expensive and not always attainable,” said Aguiar discussing her project’s inspiration.

“I was really surprised to be selected. I didn’t even know I was in the contest,” she said while surrounded by her family during the reception.

For fans of the expressive, artist JD Sweeney’s watercolor and gouache is an immediate eye catcher.

Finding a place within instructor Ed Beckett’s class where he could truly express artistic vision, Sweeney says Beckett is the best teacher he’s ever had.

“A lot of my artwork I don’t expect people to see.  I’m very political and open with my emotions. When that piece got picked I was very happy because it’s a message about how humans have an effect on the environment, society, animals, and gun control, things that are controversial,” shared Sweeney.

“I’m not the best at explaining my art, I just make it and hope the message gets across,” said the mixed media artist. “I think using a lot of different things creates a cohesive image with different textures.”

“He’s the best art teacher I’ve had, ever. Different than other art classes he lets you express yourself and do your art whereas other classes, the art pieces I would make were either too graphic or political and they would numb it down to very strict rules. Art’s all about expressing yourself and when you take that away it’s less an art class and more teaching you how to do something a certain way and that’s not what art is. His class really lets you express yourself and I really love that.”

Last but not least, photographer and graphic artist Jaiden Arnett brings an interesting mix to the table. Stereotypes can separate students into athletics or the arts, but for Arnett, a member of the track team and a football player, being a photographer and digital media artist complement each other, and he says the opposites challenge him to excel at his craft to be the best he can be, while enjoying the creative freedom AP art provides.

Photographer and graphic artist Jaiden Arnett earned 2nd Place of Show for “Smiling Earth”, in the Flagler County Art League’s virtual High School Student Art Show. He is part of the winning trio currently on display at Galleria D’Arte Palm Coast as part of the ‘Art on the Plaza Spring Show’.

“I feel like it’s a way to free your mind. Whenever I do the art, I don’t really think too much, I just think about how can I make this look better,” shared Arnett.

“It’s the same thing with sports. How can I make myself better? I want to get to the next level and go play college football, but at the same time I have to work on my little techniques and it’s the same thing in photoshop. I really have to learn how to critique myself and tweak my skills.”

His entry, which features Mother Earth in a fun way as “Smiling Earth” inspires a feeling of nostalgia that leaves the viewer feeling good and wanting to see the best for the planet.

“The inspiration behind my piece, it was a Dali project, so we were supposed to focus on the Dali style of art which is very outside of the box thinking,” he said. “That’s all I could really think about was how could I make this as outside of the box or wacky as I could.”

Beckett was proud that all of this year’s winning selections came from Flagler Palm Coast High Schools’ arts programs and that they had the opportunity to show their work in a contemporary gallery like Galleria D’Arte Palm Coast.

“I can’t tell you how big it is for them to have this kind of experience,” he said with appreciation. “There’s just something special about going into a gallery and seeing a piece in a frame.”

Now in his 33rd year with Flagler Schools – 38 teaching overall, students have continued to benefit from the experience and guidance educators like Beckett bring to the classroom, especially teaching generation after generation of families.

“I think what it says about our community is that it’s a really neat place to stay,” said Beckett.

“Sure there are kids graduate, grow up and go off to other places, but there are a lot of them that stay here and have their kids go here, because it’s a neat place to raise your kids. Until you go someplace else, you don’t really know how good you have it.”

Featured Photo: With the whole world in his hands, photographer and graphic artist Jaiden Arnett (center) earned 2nd Place of Show for “Smiling World”, while multi-media artist JD Sweeney (left) earned 1st Place of Show for “Hunter’s Arc” and “Beach Breeze” by photographer Brianna Aguiar (right) was selected as Best of Show in the Flagler County Art League’s virtual High School Student Art Show. The trio are currently on display at Galleria D’Arte Palm Coast as part of the ‘Art on the Plaza Spring Show’.

Flagler County Art League 

Hanneke Jevons, Judge – Judge’s Comments

Best of Show

#101 “Beach Breeze” Photography by Brianna Aguiar

It gives a cohesive image of an anticipated event. There is an excellent use of composition by using a soft focus for the background and a sharper image of the surfer and board. The viewer is drawn in by good use of angles, softness of colors, and the cropping of the figure to emphasize the anticipation of the event. 

1st Place of Show

#110 “Hunter’s Arc” Watercolor and Gouache Painting by JD Sweeney

This is an exceptional painting that uses color, design, and a pattern of shapes to convey the mood. Your eye moves through the painting with the use of white/light and the facial expression also reflects the feeling. A strong emotional message. Technically well done and good use of color.

2nd Place of Show

#102 “Smiling Earth” Graphic Design by Jaiden Arnett

The color contrast and imagery give a clear message. The background colors are repeated in the earth for compositional balance.  The features (on the earth) personalized the message. I smiled too.



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