American Art Awards Sculpture Winners Are DeFranco, Giarrizzo, Peck, Untermann, Van Loenen, Herrera, Choi And Woodard

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Highlight Hollywood has the exclusive rights to reveal the results of the 50 categories of winning artists in the American Art Awards, decided by the 25 Best Galleries In The Nation. In a series of articles expanding through October, we revealed, in daily features, the 1st to 6th Place winning images with artists info, one category at a time.
This year the online contest had submissions from 35 countries including Aruba, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain,South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, UK, United Arab Emirates and USA.
I interviewed president of, Thom Bierdz (painter of the BLUE X paintings) and asked which artists this year won the SCULPTURE – REPRESENTATIONAL category. Bierdz explained, “Maria DeFranco’s traditional brass, copper, marble male nude display received most cumulative gallery points awarding it 1st Place. Gianluca Giarrizzo took 2nd and 3rd Place with similar subject matter, but in wood and concrete as well. We ask the 25 galleries to score each piece up to three votes, and this low-scoring system creates many ties, so awards went to many artists sculpting many subjects with a variety of materials.”
1st   MARIA DEFRANCO   USA   “Centering”  36 x 45″ (Men 19″)  Bronze, copper, marble and steel.
2nd   GIANLUCA GIARRIZZO   USA   “Male Nude 3″    21 x 8 x 8″    Carved wax cast in bronze, concrete base.
3rd   GIANLUCA GIARRIZZO   USA   “Breath”   26 x 9 x 9″   Chisel-hammer carved wood with concrete base.
3rd   VAUNE PECK    USA   “Pear”   26 x 12″   Hand carved Mozart Pink alabaster with a hammered steel leaf and stem on a marble base.
3rd   GERD UNTERMANN    CANADA   “The Fugitive 1″    40 x 26 x 20”   Sugar Maple.
4th   TERRY VAN LOENEN    USA    “Double Bull”    17  x 14 x 11″    Bronze.
4th   HECTOR HERRERA    MEXICO   “Ignudi”   86.37 x 28 x 36″   Resin, marble dust.
5th   GERD UNTERMANN    CANADA   “Woman By The Pond”   38 x 23 x 21”    Sugar Maple.
5th   TERRY VAN LOENEN    USA   “Breaking Out”    14″ x 4 x  9″    Bronze.
5th   SUNGWON CHOI    INDONESIA   “Bound Moster”   250mm(height)    Sculpuy, acrylic paint.
6th   DON WOODARD    USA  “Tracks Over The Rio Grande”   22 x 30″   Relief wood sculpture.
6th   DON WOODARD   USA   “Aspen Gold”   18 x 29″   Relief wood sculpture.
Maria DeFranco began her artistic career in Cleveland, Ohio in her high school art class. In her graduating year, her final piece was an 8 ft. tall sculpture of a female figure, with 4 different personalities facing each direction. The piece consisted of a wooden frame with stretched canvas, painted with the images and poetry reflecting the choices each woman had taken on her life’s journey. The culmination was a bonfire, as the piece set on fire in a field.
In 1971, Maria entered the Philadelphia College of Art where she studied under the sculptor, Raphael Ferrar. Her pieces continued to be environmental in nature as she invited the viewers to walk through or peer into environments she had altered. One outdoor piece consisted of a 12 ft. tall reinforcing rod structure with plastic wrapped to form an enclosure. The viewer was invited into this space that was a misty experience caused by dry ice and hidden fans.
Her practical side took over and Maria graduated with a degree in Environmental Design in 1975. She was interested in making sculpture that people could live in, and have art surround and affect their everyday existence. She continued her studies at the Southern California Institute of Architecture
(Sci-Arc) and graduated with a Bachelors in Architecture in 1981. She completed her internships and got licensed as an Architect in New York, her present home. While she practiced architecture and raised 2 children with her husband, she continued making sculpture, this time with an emphasis on clay figurative forms. She studied with Tricia Kline at the Woodstock School of Art during the 90’s. Since then, she has had her own studio producing work often inspired by her travels around the world. She begins her pieces modelling with clay most often from a live model. She has continued to take those pieces into bronze, exploring the possibilities of colored patinas in her latest work.
You can see more pieces on her web site:


BEST GALLERY IN ARIZONA — Exposures International Gallery Of Fine Art: “Sedona’s largest gallery… Arizona’s largest gallery… largest gallery in the Southwest! …20,000 square feet of extraordinary display. 18 years…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:

BEST GALLERY IN ILLINOIS — Hilligoss Gallery: “…has been Chicago’s Premier Art Gallery offering every kind of painting, from Renoirs to emerging local impressionists…two-story 8,500 square foot gallery is a beautiful and surreal timeless world unto itself, with a large staff and millions in annual revenue…”     SEE FULL STORY HERE: GALLERY IN NEBRASKA — Kiechel Fine Art: “For almost thirty years… specialized in 20th Century American Art with a focus on artists from the Midwest… three story building and exterior spaces…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:

BEST GALLERY IN NEW YORK STATE — LIK SOHO: “Lik is the most successful photographer in the world… 15 GALLERIES, TV show… sold upwards of $500 million to collectors, royalty, presidents and celebrities… his B&W photo titled “Phantom” sold for $6,500,000.00… Lik’s works make up four of the top 20 most expensive photographs ever sold…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN CALIFORNIA — Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery: “…20 years… three locations… excel in fine art acquisitions, consulting, custom framing, art installation, corporate collections and award design…” SEE FULL STORY HERE: GALLERY IN NEVADA — Exclusive Collections Gallery: “Collectors range from A-list celebrities to U.S. presidents… does an astronomical amount of business… is continually expanding, with four other stunning locations – Beverly Hills, San Diego and Laguna Beach.” SEE FULL STORY HERE:

BEST GALLERY IN CONNECTICUT — Westport River Gallery: “… expertise in fine European, American & Asian fine art… web site reads like a library… on highly collectible international artists’ works… preeminent dealers of Pissarro – and not only Camille Pissarro,… but also H. Claude Pissarro, Paulemile Pissarro and Lelia Pissarro.” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN TENNESSEE — Stanford Fine Art: “…the premier purveyor of historical, Impressionistic and regional art in the Southeast. For over 25 years… Nashville’s premier art gallery… works… from the 19th century to the present… exemplary aesthetic standards, museum quality…”
BEST GALLERY IN  OREGON: BRONZE COAST GALLERY: “…one of Oregon Coast’s premiere fine art galleries for more than 20 years. They even provide education in sculpture and the process of bronze casting…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN FLORIDA — Art Fusion Galleries: “Established in 2001… represents over 900… known as the preeminent gallery in Miami for integrating the best of Emerging to Mid-Career Contemporary artists… 8,000 square feet… in the heart of Miami’s Wynwood Art District…”
BEST GALLERY IN TEXAS — Laura Rathe Gallery: “…two stunning galleries, one in the Dallas Design District… other on Houston Gallery Row… a leading source for contemporary art in Texas… established, mid-career artists… acquired into world-renowned private, corporate and museum collections…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN LOUISIANA — Jonathan Ferrara Gallery: “…focused on cutting edge works… with a sense of purpose, mission, and message… provocative… New Orleans gallery has become a fixture on Julia Street’s gallery row, the premier art corridor in The South.” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN KENTUCKY – E & S Gallery: “…a nationally recognized leader in the African American art industry. Established in Louisville, KY in 1989… grown to a more than 11,000 square foot gallery…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN COLORADO — Mirada Fine Art:   “… on numerous ‘Best Of’ lists. We love the art, we love the spirit, we love the upward trajectory, we love the history… special, insightful and unique…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN MISSOURI: The Hilliard Gallery:“41 years… one of the oldest and largest fine art galleries in Kansas City… voted by Kansas City Visitor Center as Best Gallery In Kansas City in 2012… voted by Kansas City Magazine as the Best Gallery In Kansas City 2014.” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN OHIO — Lee Hayden Gallery: “… a prominent Cleveland gallery for a decade, offering paintings, sculptures and rare prints from dozens of internationally acclaimed artists…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN NEW MEXICO — Zane Bennett Contemporary Art: “…museum appeal…powerful 10,000 square foot space… Phenomenal.”
BEST GALLERY IN SOUTH CAROLINA — Mary Martin Gallery Of Fine Art: “…on par with Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive and NY’s Fifth Avenue. This prestigious French Quarter gallery… classical to contemporary works of originality and beauty… established and mid-career painters and sculptors who forge new ground. Notable artists of museum quality…” SEE FULL STORY HERE: GALLERY IN HAWAII — Genesis Galleries: “16 years… two wildly popular galleries on the Big Island… Genesis Kings offers international work while their Queens location offers only authentic Hawaii work… Known along the Kohala Coast as the highest-rated destination in galleries by Trip Advisor… “ SEE FULL STORY HERE:

BEST GALLERY IN IOWA — Steven Vail Fine Arts: “…one of the state’s better-known galleries for contemporary and modern art… international and high-profile artists, such as Damien Hirst, Willem de Koonig, Chuck Close, Henry Moore, Not Vital and Donald Judd whose works have been exhibited in famous art museums across the world…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN IDAHO — The Art Spirit Gallery: “… 20 years… high-quality, original work by regional artists… 4,000 square foot… unimaginably high ceilings… promote high-quality art in the resort community of Coeur d’Alene…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN MINNESOTA — Doubletake Gallery: “…a fine art consignment and brokerage service gallery …international Internet presence, with millions of hits…open-to-the-public showroom… LeRoy Neiman, Salvador Dali, Peter Max…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN NEW JERSEY — Evalyn Dunn Gallery: “It is very rare to find a gallery so successful it is approaching it’s 60th year…features the finest 20th Century American and European art.” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
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BEST GALLERY IN ALASKA — Annie Kaill’s Premier Fine Art: “…forty years… commercial regional art by both emerging and mid-career artists, as well as the Northwest’s most famous painters …devotion to the authentic Alaskan landscape…” SEE FULL STORY HERE:
BEST GALLERY IN UTAH — Southam Gallery: “…36 years… one of the premier galleries in the Inter Mountain Region… some of the most beautiful paintings we have ever seen anywhere… “ SEE FULL STORY HERE:
Movie of Bierdz’s BLUE X paintings below:

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AAA
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