The Darien Arts Center's 53rd annual Art Show and Sale kicked off with a standing-room only opening reception on June 3. With 286 entries and 86 awards presented across 13 categories, including Best in Show, the annual event surpassed everyone's expectations, according to the DAC.

The show, co-chaired by Vicki French Smith and Lesley Sandison, featured art in a variety of media, including work in oils and acrylics, watercolor, mixed media, sculpture, photography and pastel, with Best in Show awarded to Olivia Robinson for her photography entry, "Kappa Hill."

Taking first place in the adult category were Henry Glavin for oils and acrylics; Pierre Lahaussois for color photography; Priscilla Podesta for black-and-white photography; Pat Atkin for sculpture; Stan Pastore for watercolor; Lisa Thoren and Nancy Battey for a collaboration in mixed media; and Adam Campbell for pastels, graphics and drawing.

"This year's art show surprised me. While receiving art, I noticed a lot of 20-something-year-olds walking through Darien Arts Center's doors with their sophisticated, contemporary art -- and a lot of talent," arts center president Lisa Thoren said. "Some of these artists have won Darien's art show awards when they were little kids, and were encouraged to pursue painting by teachers in DAC's art classes ... and some artists were recipients of the Ginny Wright Scholarship when they were seniors at (Darien High School).

"In this art show, more college-age students than ever participated, and some have graduated from college and have begun careers in the arts. All of them have graduated to a level of creativity that is refreshing and sophisticated."

All adult first-, second- and third-place prize-winning entries will be on exhibit at the Darien Library Monday through July 11. Adult honorable mention-winning entries will be on exhibit at the Darien Town Hall, on the first floor, from Monday through June 30.

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Eliza DeHaas, who will study at UMass Dartmouth this fall, received the Darien Art Center's Ginny Wright Scholarship. Presented by Steve Wright, this scholarship is awarded each year to a Darien High School senior who plans to continue his or her study of visual arts or design in college. The award is given in memory of Virginia Wright, a talented artist, dedicated volunteer and generous benefactor. The selection is based on a portfolio review by a DAC jury and a recommendation letter from a member of the DHS visual art faculty or an alternative art school.

There were several first-prize student winners from Darien High School, including Kyle King in photography for "From Below," Charlotte Schaffer in sculpture for "Crushed," and Thomas Dunne in all other media for "Out of Hand." Other first-place winners from elementary and middle schools included Caroline Weeks, Eric Morales and Greta Hoffmeister.

As in past years, David Osherow sponsored the student competition. Children's first-place pieces will be on display in his office.

Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community. The DAC offers educational programs in dance, visual arts, kids' theater and music and performances. The organization is funded by private donations, tuition fees and ticket sales.

For more information, call 203-655-8683 or visit arts.darien.org.