Sat. Aug 8th, 2020

WORLD’S BEST SELF-PORTRAITS: YOUNG, KANG, OSTRAUSKAS, LI, MACNOJIA, ANDRE, LU, ISOKÄÄNTÄ, LEE, BHATTACHARYA

Highlight Hollywood is pleased to bring you the world’s best contemporary artists of 2019, one AMERICAN ART AWARDS category at a time. We also tribute the 1st Place winners with a photo and bio.


This prestigious online art competition is decided by the 25 Best Galleries & Museums in America, who had accomplished painters, photographers, digital artists and sculptors enter online images this year from 63 countries:


Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic Of Korea, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda, UK, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. 

There were innumerable beautifully executed works entered this year – and America’s top 25 galleries and museums had a hard time selecting winners. Many wonderful pieces did not get enough votes to take 1st to 6th Place, but all the featured works shown in this article received high praise and high marks to triumph. Congratulations to all these artists for scoring above the stiff competition.

This is the 11th anniversary for the international awards organization which decides the 25 Best Galleries and Museums in America, who decide the World’s Best Contemporary Artists. Gallery decisions are based upon years established, industry reputation, online buzz, location, size, socially relevant exhibits, motivational and educational programs, represented artists as well as artist, client and visitor references.


President of the AMERICAN ART AWARDS is fine artist and 10X author Thom Bierdz, known globally since 1986 for playing Phillip Chancellor III on The Young and the Restless. Bierdz is set to co-host an upcoming 50 videos revealing the hundreds of stunning winning artworks of the 2019 AMERICAN ART AWARDS.

BIO OF 1ST PLACE WINNER KENNETH YOUNG: 

Ken Young’s boyhood passion was to draw. Growing up in Hudson, NY he’d marshal his spare change to buy Marvel and DC Comics, then meticulously copy the fanciful characters that populated their pages. “I was fascinated by cartoon art,” recalls Young. “The energy and the boldness of the images really captured my attention” His next furtive step into the world of art was to acquire some “paint by numbers” kits, “which weren’t great art, but I was ten years old, and they taught me detail and precision.” From comic books and paint-by-number kits to a real art course was a leap of faith for Young and his family. Relying on his tenacity and dedication, however, when the salesman for Art Instruction Schools called to follow up on Young’s “Draw Me” submission, which Young had dutifully sent in as response to one of their ubiquitous match book or magazine ads, the decision was made “It was expensive, for us, at least.” Young remembers the stress on his mother’s family budget that the tuition placed. “But I promised to stay with it…and I did.” Every few weeks, Young would receive another instruction book and an assignment. Every week, in the evenings after his homework was finished and on weekends when his friends and classmates were out “being kids,” Young was working at home, being an artist. “I still have those books,” he recalls. “And every once in a while, I pull one out to give me some insight into how I can tackle a new technique or refine my perspective.”

BIO OF 1ST PLACE WINNER KENNETH YOUNG (continued): 

Becoming an artist: $300.00. 24 books. Countless assignments finished, submitted, graded, and returned. By the time he was in high school, people in town recognized that this was more than a passing fad. Ken Young was an artist. In fact, when he missed the day of portrait photography for his senior yearbook, the staff asked him to do a sketch of himself. That’s what appeared over his name. “I had a high school art teacher who knew how serious I was,” reflects Young. “He’d let me take home a canvas and some paints to work with at night.” Those were oil paints. “I used to walk to school because I didn’t want the wet paint to get damaged while riding on the bus.” When Young graduated from high school in 1975, there were several scholarship offers sitting on the kitchen table. Art school could be in the future. Perhaps the pressure was on. Perhaps it was time for a change.

BIO OF 1ST PLACE WINNER KENNETH YOUNG (continued):  The reality of life: Ken Young stopped being an artist. “It was almost 20 years,” he says wistfully, recalling how life’s road can offer so many twists and turns. “I became deeply involved in the study of Scripture. I fell in love. We got married. Our son was born and I had a family to support.” Young worked with his hands, spending years at WB McGuire when they had a local plant. From factory work, Young moved to being a caretaker at a local estate owned by insurance executive James McMahon. “He loved airplanes,” recalls Young, “There was a time he wanted to open a museum, so when he found out that I had been a painter, he asked me to create some posters during the winter.” Ken Young, the artist, was back; “When I delivered the posters, he asked me to do paintings of vintage airplanes. They were going to be in the museum.” Young had never tried to create images of historic aircraft, but the challenge was real and his pent up desire to create art won out. “I must have done 20 paintings of aviation history-the planes and the adventurers. It was only when the notion of the museum didn’t work out that I was back to balancing income for my family with the passion for painting that just wouldn’t go away.”

BIO OF 1ST PLACE WINNER KENNETH YOUNG (continued): 

The years flowed by and Young gravitated to working on house painting crews…until the day he realized “I knew I could do this, so I started my own business. Things were going along OK, and one day my wife and I took a trip to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. “I had never seen Monets and Sargents in person, before, and that day changed my life.” Young was so smitten by the work of the masters hanging in the Clark’s galleries that he laughingly recalls being asked to step back from the paintings on several occasions: “The brush work, the technique, the use of color, the use of light! I was blown away!” Making the commitment takes dedication as well as motivation. When the Columbia County Council on the Arts announced a juried exhibition of portraits with the theme “face to face”, Young was, as he affirms, “back on fire”. The result, was a painting entitled: “Looking back” that told his story starting with that yearbook sketch from high school graduation, to 2009. “It’s in my blood,” he admits. “I can’t not paint.” What started with that self-portrait became a torrent of activity. Hudson, the town where he had grown up, had changed. Now there were galleries and trendy restaurants and antique dealers. He started painting views of Warren Street — the store fronts, the people on the street, the ebb and flow of that vibrant destination.

BIO OF 1ST PLACE WINNER KENNETH YOUNG (continued): 

As Young continued to let the fire burn brightly, galleries and art centers took notice. There were solo shows and invited participation in small group shows. Ken Young’s story should have a happy ending and hopefully it will. Today there is still the need to balance painting houses with painting street scenes, recognizing that when rainy days make it impossible to work on area homes, they are great days to peer through the windows distorted by rain and capture the soul of a village. “I look at my paintings as a way of delivering information,” suggests Young. “They tell a story, evoke a mood and allow the person to bring their own interpretation to what they see.” By CB Wismar / Main Street Magazine.

SEE YOUNG’S WORK HERE: www.kennethyoungfineart.com

THIS LINK HAS SUBMISSION INFORMATION AND WILL HAVE OVER 100 ARTICLES AND 50 VIDEOS ON ALL 50 CATEGORIES OF 2019 AMERICAN ART AWARDS WINNING ARTISTS: https://www.americanartawards.com/press-on-2019-artists/

You can follow us on social media at www.twitter.com/HighlightHwd or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Highlight-Hollywood/193119760769011,and now on Google+ at: https://plus.google.com/+TommyLightfootGarrett90211/about

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy:  AAA

Follow us on Twitter @HighlightHwd or @LightfootinHwd