Art scholarships, in short supply, get local boost

Nick Berryman | Lariat Photographer
Fernando Salas’ painting, which won third place in last year’s scholarship contest, hangs on the wall of the Studio Art Gallery.

By Ariadne Aberin
Staff Writer

There are many opportunities for academic and athletic scholarships. The Top Young Artists Scholarship Program began because there aren’t as many opportunities for academic advancement in the arts.

The Top Young Artists of the Year is a scholarship program open to juniors and seniors in high schools throughout the county, and it was started by Lance Magid, owner of Studio Art Gallery in Waco.

“This was an idea I had about four years ago,” Magid said. “My mission was to bridge the gap between academic and athletic scholarships. We are trying to keep art alive in Waco, because we believe that art preserves culture.”

To apply for the scholarship, students submit their artwork to their teachers, who then select the top three pieces from their respective schools. The pieces are then displayed at Studio Art Gallery for two weeks.

“At that time, if the students want to sell their art, they can,” Magid said.

If a student decides to sell his or her art, the student keeps 75 percent of the profit, while 25 percent goes toward the funds for next year’s scholarship.

The scholarship winners are chosen by a panel of judges who each have different points of view on art.

“The judges change every year,” Magid said. “During our first year, we had professional artists. We’ve had professors from Baylor, TSTC and MCC judge. We’ve also had local collectors who are great art enthusiasts. This year, we plan on having an interior designer join the ranks.”

Magid explained that the scholarship contestants were judged based on a set of three criteria: creativity and originality, craftsmanship and skill, and composition and design. Scholarship winners receive prizes ranging from $250 to $2,000.

“We want every participant to leave with something,” Magid said. “We have the art teachers put together goody bags for each student, and we give out the T-shirts, art supplies, portfolios and anything we can give to help them.”

The scholarship program became popular about two years ago, when Studio Art Gallery collaborated with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

“The Chamber of Commerce has helped us out tremendously,” Magid said. “They really pushed this event, and we could not be happier with what the chamber has done to help us.”

Alexis Weaver, director of community affairs for the chamber, explained why the Chamber agreed to work with Studio Art Gallery:

“There have been a lot of funding cuts in the city lately,” said Weaver. “When it comes to students being gifted in the arts, not as much is available and that’s not really where a lot of students are encouraged, and those are the programs that get cut more often.”

Weaver added that Studio Art Gallery felt that the chamber would be a good partner because of its community development and connection to Waco ISD.

Through the help of the chamber, the scholarship program is now sponsored by companies such as Providence Healthcare and Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center. This year, Oak Farms Dairy in Waco is the main sponsor for the scholarship program.

“Our goal is to get this program as big and as best as we can do it,” Magid said.

At the end of the two week art exhibition, an awards ceremony is held at Art Center Waco.

“It’s nice because after the ceremony, the students can say that their art hung in an internationally recognized museum,” Weaver said.

Marc Arnold, director for Art Center Waco, said a representative from the chamber and several local business owners show up to the event.

According to Magid, the 2008 grand prize winner, Kelsey Truman, still comes back to work during the summer and breaks. Truman attends college at Georgetown, and the gallery has helped her get commission work. The 2008 third place winner, Fernando Salas, enlisted in the United States Marines two weeks before the scholarship competition started. Because the military would pay for his education, Salas donated his winnings to the program’s scholarship fund.

The students’ artwork goes on display at Studio Art Gallery on March 15. Studio Art Gallery is located at 4712 West Waco Drive. There is a wine-and-cheese preview the night before the first exhibition day, open to the public, and the awards ceremony is also open to the public. The awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. March 28 at Art Center Waco. For more information, contact Lance Magid at Studio Gallery,