Say what you will about Picasso and his personal life, the man knew some things about art. Namely, that “art is a lie that enables us to realize the truth.” That’s why we love art here at the City Paper. It makes us think, it makes us feel, and it can, when done well, expose what’s hidden.

With that in mind, we always love seeing what our local art community is up to. Thus, we give you our 2016 visual art contest winners.

First Place, General Division ($100)

“Every Story Has a Name”
By Bob Graham
Medium: Watercolor

About the piece: “The inspiration was the innocence that a child has when they view the world. Sometimes there’s so much hurt going on out there. All the hurt that a child has to see in this world. I’ve always done portraits. I believe everyone has a story to tell as long as we take the time to listen. I typically do watercolor or black and white graphite drawings.”

Judges’ comments: “This is a powerful piece, not just art for art’s sake. I commend it for speaking about what’s going on now. Not that it’s not timeless. It being a portrait, he managed to illustrate a feeling through the choppiness of the light. It implies a little something more.”

“This one is really well done and evokes emotion. There’s a realness to it without it being perfect realism and over-executed. I think it can speak to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. That looseness to parts of it allows it to play out how it will.”




A native of Charleston, Alison Brynn Ross has a background in graphic design. Fortunately she realized early on in her career that she was no good at a cubicle and started branching out into other creative work. Her focus has now shifted towards wire sculpture and illustration, with a smattering of graphic design. An adoration of nature led to the creation of wire taxidermy, a study of the quirkiness of life in three dimensions.

Find her work (and her dog) on Instagram @alisonbrynnross or at


Tim Hussey has been a contemporary painter for 15 years. His work can be found in collections from LA to Berlin. Tim recently moved back to Charleston and lives with his wife Elise. He currently represents himself at T. Hussey Studio on upper King Street.

Find his work on Instagram @husseystudio or at

Second Place, General Division ($65)

“Flowers for Virginia”
By Mary Catherine Peeples
Medium: Acrylic paint


About the piece: “I was really inspired by other local artists. I had a daughter eight months ago and I wanted to create something really bright and cheery for her room, so I bought the flowers and painted them.”

Judges’ comments: “Simple yet confusing. We both kept being drawn back to this. It’s a lovely composition that’s not overworked. I like the use of texture and shape.”

“I like the reverse shadow cutting through the pattern. It’s brilliant.”

Third Place, General Division ($35)

“Prescription Nation Series: To Pacify”
By Karl Zurflüh
Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas


About the piece: “The series itself is a social commentary on America’s overuse of prescriptions. This piece is specifically about Ritalin use in children and how America doesn’t use more homeopathic methods or look at the big picture and family situations like France or other countries do. It represents how our medical facilities are supported by the prescription industry, and we use prescriptions as a crutch. It’s become a real problem in society.”

Judges’ comments “It’s a well-developed illustration. Conceptually it’s spot on with the times. It has a retro feeling.”

“Technically it’s well done.”

Honorable Mention, General Division

“Shrine of Storms”
By Tim Kaminski
Medium: Digital painting


About the piece: “The inspiration for this piece came from doing a lot of science fiction art for Kiz Studio, where I work as a concept artist and art director. I wanted to change the theme up for my personal work so I started this fantasy painting. I knew I wanted to create a world where ancient giants were long gone. A world full of mystery and ripe for exploration.”

Judges’ comments “It’s a confident drawing and a play on diffused light.”

“I like the atmosphere it creates and the composition. Everything is exactly where it should be, and that’s very rare. The way the brushes are used, it looks digital.”

First Place, Student Division ($100)

“I Was Born Underwater”
By Madison Hall
Sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University
Medium: Acrylic


About the piece: “I wanted to study the process of how nature overpowers and takes over buildings. The title really refers to how I see myself in the transformation of buildings. I spend a lot of time looking at abandoned buildings, traveling, and documenting houses around my area.”

Judges’ comments “I feel like it was a thoughtful composition that isn’t straight realism. It’s got that calm eerie quality.”

“It’s a powerful two color image. I like the contrast.”

Honorable Mention, Student Division

“King Street”
By Regan Thorpe
Senior at Wando High School
Medium: Colored pencil


About the piece: “I wanted it to be bright and colorful. I wanted to show something fun. Charleston culture is so fun.”

Judges’ comments “It’s got a really nice composition in the way that they created the light and shadows. It has a sweetness and softness.”

“It’s really observant of what’s truly happening in shadows.”