Bellport high school artist wins two prestigious awards

BAFFA hosts art competition amongst 11 high schools

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Gathering unique and blossomed talent from 11 high schools (Bayport-Blue Point, Bellport, Brentwood, Commack, Connetquot, Longwood, Patchogue-Medford, Sachem East, Sachem North, Sayville, and William Floyd), the Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts (BAFFA) hosted its annual high school art show with over 100 pieces of artwork at the Gillette House in Sayville.

“With each school only submitting nine to 10 pieces and a total of 24,000 students eligible to have a piece in the show, it really is the top artists we have on display,” said Donna Smosky, vice president of BAFFA.

Teachers from the local high schools selected the pieces, of various media, to submit in the past two weeks leading up to the show on April 3, for judging by the Bell Street Artists, a professional organization, having kept an eye out for worthy submissions since being notified of the contest in November.

BAFFA was founded in 1968 and had hosted an annual art contest for local high schools every year until the pandemic.

Each art showcase, with ones previously held for elementary and middle school children, has been enthusiastically attended by the young artists and their parents and extended family.

“One artist had aunts and uncles come in from New Jersey to see her piece on display,” said Smosky, adding, “they get to be little celebrities for the day with their whole fan club in attendance.”

Categories included watercolor, photography, sculpture, mixed media, among others.

Matthew Guerrero of Bellport’s “Vermeer-like” self-portrait won two of the biggest awards from BAFFA, including the Ellen Stoll Best in Show Award. Ellen Stoll “has been the person who has had the greatest impact on the BAFFA Art Gallery for many decades. Under her leadership, the gallery has been a showcase for scores of local artists,” according to BAFFA’s introductory literature.

Stoll has been the Gillette House gallery manager for decades. The recipient of this award received the first-ever Ellen Stoll Best in Show Award.

Guerrero also received the Jacqueline C. Palmer Award. Jackie Palmer was an active member of BAFFA, supporting the art gallery as well as the chorus and orchestra concerts.   She reflected her enthusiasm and love of the arts in all her Bayport community activities and beyond. Upon her death, her loving family (husband, sons, and daughter) chose to donate a scholarship in the arts to honor Palmer each year at the BAFFA Juried High School Art Exhibit. The first Jacqueline C. Palmer Award was presented in 1991.

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