Everyone loves great works of art.

Some offer stories.

Some inspiration.

Some heartfelt emotions.

And some are just flat out awesome to behold.

Here at the City Paper, we always enjoy seeing what our local art community will come up with next, because we know that as the world’s best city, the Holy City is also home to some of the best artists. Thus, we give you our inaugural visual art contest winners. Enjoy.

NOTE: Due to the number of entries in the Student Division, the judges chose to award only first place and an honorable mention.

The Judges


Nathan Durfee has garnered praise across the Southeast for his captivating, pop-surrealist narratives and intriguing use of color. Currently based in Charleston, Durfee has been voted four-time Best Local Visual Artist by Charleston City Paper readers. Other accolades include winning both the 2010 Charleston Portrait Slam and the 2007 Teatrio Cultural Association book award for his children’s book Hello My Name is Bernard. Each of Durfee’s solo gallery exhibitions has been met with critical acclaim and sold out almost immediately. Durfee has also recently been profiled in American Art Collector, Charleston Art, and Charleston Scene magazines.


Karen Ann Myers is an artist, educator, and curator. She received an MFA in painting from Boston University and a BFA in studio art from Michigan State University. She is currently serving as the associate director at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston. Myers is also an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, teaching in the Art Management Department. Karen has exhibited her paintings and works on paper extensively throughout the country and abroad.

Scott Suchy is an artist and graphic designer, and has been the City Paper art director since 2008. He received a BFA in studio art from Siena Heights College. In addition to art direction, his work in illustration has led to multiple awards over the years.

General Division


First Place ($150)
Channeling Edison
by Patrick Nevins
16″ x 20″; oil on hardboard

Artist’s Thoughts: “I had always wanted to paint a trompe l’oeil style piece; I also wanted to somehow incorporate a light bulb into a painting. So I combined the two issues and the rest came together with some tweaking and adjusting. I would say it is more a statement about technology, creativity, and inventiveness than it is really about Thomas Edison. The photo of Ben Franklin peering from behind the papers is a nod to Edison’s admiration of Franklin. To continue the electricity theme, I added the electrical tape, power cord, and the GFCI outlet.”

Judge comments: “I love how the layers visually invite you to peel the tape, pull the paper, and pick the wall paint. This piece not only focuses on the formal elements of a still-life, but also uses the objects as a narrative vehicle.”

“The trompe-l’œil technique and strong light source are an appropriate approach for creating a portrait of Edison and the evolution of his invention.”


Second Place ($100)
I Love Your Sweater
by Michael Heagerty
8″ x 10.5″; mix of acrylic, pen and ink, charcoal, etc. 

Artist’s Thoughts: “I am really paying attention right now to how people communicate and interact with each other when they are meeting and speaking for the first time, or haven’t known each other for very long, or are seeing a friend or acquaintance in public who they haven’t seen in a long time. It’s interesting, painful, and hilarious to hear things people (including myself) say when they want to say something to fill the silence, and they come up with compliments like ‘I love your sweater’ or some other observation about someone’s appearance, observations about the weather, etc.”

Judge comments:
“Raw, troubling brushstrokes set against superficial compliments: It reminds me of when I was young and had to be polite at family reunions. I love how anxious I become looking at this piece.”

“At first glance, the piece is a bit haunting and aggressive — in a good way. However, upon closer inspection, the text adds humor and holds your attention for another study. I’m attracted to works that have additional narratives at different viewing distances.”


Third Place ($50)
Catch’ UR Eye
by Bob Graham
32″ x 40″; graphite drawing on Stonehenge paper

Artist’s Thoughts: “The gentleman in the piece is actually the grandfather of a friend of mine that I played college football with. He was the first black police officer in Anderson County, S.C., I believe back in 1972. He was so well regarded among the citizens … so respected as a three-sport superstar and athlete that the sheriff asked him if he would become a police officer and join the force. For me the piece is all about this man and his accomplishment. I believe every name has a story… if we just take the time to listen.”

Judge comments: “The artist’s use of foreshortening and selective focus helps elevate it beyond a common portrait.”

“Great rendering of textures, especially in the face. I’m drawn in by the figure’s contemplative expression and deep contrast of tones.”


Honorable Mention ($25)
At Night All Cats Are Grey
by Brad Carroll
36″ x 12″; acrylic on canvas 

Artist’s Thoughts: “My wife and I were laid over in Portugal and we just started taking shots and I zoomed in from the shots and looked up old Portuguese proverbs and ‘At Night All Cats Are Grey’ was the name of one of them.”

Judge comments: “The repetition of the red roofs gives the painting a wonderful rhythm, and the mural gives the city some sense of character.”

“It’s playful, colorful, and has a pleasant, rhythmic beat.”

Student Division


First Place ($150)
Ghosts in the Machine
by Julian Gatch
12.5″ x 16.5″; colored pencil and watercolor || School of the Arts 8th grade final assignment

Artist’s Thoughts: “I liked the idea of a bunch of machine parts being able to move and function like an animal would, and the fact that it was kinda contradictory, a nonliving thing made to work like a living one. I’ve always loved drawing animals, but dragons in particular since they can look however you want them to. It was fun to try and figure out how it would work as if I was building it rather than drawing it.”

Judge comments: “It’s a mechanical dragon atop a boulder — what’s not to love!  There’s care, detail, and a wandering mind: all things I like to see in an emerging artist’s work.”

“It’s a well-executed mechanical rendering with attention paid on all the right parts.”


Honorable Mention ($25)
“Knobbed Whelk Shell”
by Lizbeth Mendoza
10″ x 12″; graphite on bristol vellum || Trident Technical College freshman

Artist’s Thoughts: “My focus was to draw the two upper shells with more detail and the bottom shell only in contour. The two bottom stripes symbolize waves and help ground the shells. I consider this piece as the beginning of my graphic design career, similar to one of many thumbnails to a big project.”

“The subtle additions to these seashell renderings went a long way.  The simple stripes and selective rendering helped them become less objects and more design elements and patterns.”

“I enjoy the beautiful contour lines and how the strong horizontal bands at the bottom balance the weight of the shells perfectly.”