- November 14, 2018
The Sarasota Chapter of the National League of American Pen Women awarded scholarships to 11 students from area high schools at a luncheon on April 26 at the Bird Key Yacht Club.
Students from Booker, North Port, Pine View, Southeast, Sarasota and Manatee School of Fine Arts high schools accepted their awards from the Pen Women.
“This is our 36th year doing this,” said Wilma Davidson, director of the Sarasota chapter of Pen Women.
Davidson explained that the award program started with Betty Altman, who was an art member for 30 years. She served for 16 years as the chair for the award program, and after she passed away, her children continued supporting the program.
“This is our biggest outreach with over 17 high schools (submitting candidates) in Sarasota and Manatee counties,” said Davidson. “There are three categories for the awards, which are music, letters and art. The awards are judged based on the quality of the work and we’ve also invited teachers from the students’ high schools as well.”
The NLAPW was founded in 1897 when women journalists were not permitted to join men’s-only organizations and press clubs.
Twenty years before women were granted the right to vote, a group of 17 women that were writers, artists and composers, poets and teachers gathered together to start the professional organization where they could be recognized for their talents.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Vinnie Ream, Eudora Welty and Pearl Buck are just a few of the women that were part of the NLAPW.
There are over 1,600 members across the nation with over 80 branches spread out across the country.
“This is the oldest women’s art organization in the United States, and it’s not just limited to writers, musicians, and artists. There are sculptors, dancers, choreographers, and film directors that make up the organization. Our branch here in Sarasota was founded in 1957 and Florida has the most branches,” said Davidson.
At the luncheon, after the awards were handed out, students performed or showcased their work that won them the award.
“It’s a bit of a performance luncheon where the students played their music, the letter winners read their writing out loud and the art winners displayed their work at the front for members and friends,” said Davidson.
Polly Curran, art chair, explained the importance of the NLAPW award program.
“It all centers around creativity for the students and their futures. We’re honored to help in launching them in whatever endeavor they choose,” said Curran.
Danae Tran, music winner, performed her piece at the luncheon.
“My music is violin and piano together and it’s inspired by the Classical period,” said Tran. “I feel absolutely amazing because I feel that I’m able to express my music to a community that supports the arts.”
Kalie Martin, winner of the ABC Books Special Award, read aloud her fiction interpretation of the day she got her ferret.
“Planning what to write took a while, but writing it actually took less than 30 minutes,” said Martin. “It’s a positive interpretation and uplifting story.”
Alanna Hutton, winner of the Betty Altman Special Awards, showcased her painting called “American Toys.”
“It was part of my AP art portfolio centering around cultural and social issues. It took about 30 hours to finish.”
Another winner of the Betty Altman Special Award, Gabriela Sanchez-Gomez, explained how she met the inspiration for her painting.
“My piece is based on the narrative acne of Soupy and his band in Cortez Village in 2016,” said Sanchez-Gomez. “I met him a few weeks ago at a community picnic and he and his band signed my work.”
Samantha Tanelli is the winner of the Betty Altman Award of Excellence for her painting, “The Cat and the Monkey”
“My work is based on stories, folklore and fables centered around animals,” said Tanelli.
Many students shared the sentiment of tremendous support in their creative pursuits because of the award program, which inspires them to create even more.
“I think it’s important to be recognized for your talents at a young age,” said Davidson.