I saw an ad for The Next Original Artist competition on Instagram. It just popped on my screen. I usually don’t participate in competitions, especially anything labeled as a sponsored post. What caught my attention, however, was the name Kessler. A few years back, exactly at this time of year, we had a family vacation in Savannah, Georgia. We stayed at the most beautiful hotel with original art on the walls, a collection of vintage hats, and this unique and inspiring bohemian vibe that I recorded my PYHaS2018 introduction video in, so I stopped and read the ad. It said that Kessler’s Collection was having a contest for The Next Original artist to be featured on a billboard in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The participation was free and all I had to was to upload 3 artworks to participate.
On Tuesday, December 13th, I got a call from an unknown caller. I let it ring because there are so many spam calls these days that I only answer the phones when I recognize the caller, and let it go to voicemail. To my surprise, when I listened to the voicemail, it was Lori, calling from Kessler’s Collection, telling me that I had been one of ten finalists who had been selected from The Next Original competition. She wanted to fly me out to Savannah, Georgia, and meet me so that I would be able to participate in the final event. I called her back and we immediately started talking. She told me that I was chosen from 5,000 artwork submissions and that Mr. Richard Kessler himself wanted to meet me. I was extremely excited, as one would be! From this moment, everything moved super quickly. I was offered a contract with the bohemian gallery in case I won the competition and Cindy, Lori’s assistant, sent me the Itinerary and What to Expect, as well as booked flight tickets for my daughter and me.
On the plane to Savannah, I met my Facebook art friend Elaine, who’s art I admired for years. Guess what? She was one of the finalists of The Next Original too! What a pleasant coincident!
We arrived in Savannah on December 15th. As soon as we stepped into the gorgeous Riverside District Plant Hotel, we were immediately greeted by Lori (Chief Commercial Officer and Summer (Corporate Director of Galleries) with champagne. I must note, I don’t drink, but this was the kind of occasion that screamed celebration, so cheers! Everything was extremely organized, and the actual hotel was so large that Natasha and I got lost trying to find our room twice!
As soon as we entered our room, Natasha and I were speechless. we were generously provided with a glorious spacious suite, with a roof top view of the Savannah River right next to a heated pool.
Later that day, we attended a cocktail party with delicious hors’ deuvers where we again met Lori, both Summers, and rest of The Next Original finalists. We had the chance to socialize and introduce each other. I was blown away by the skillful work of all the finalists in this competition: Shan Fannin, Laura Pawlik, Hallie Packard, Elaine Schloss, Alfredo Gonzalez, Deirdre Barrett, Chase Parker, and Karin Holzer – you can find out more about each artist by clicking HERE
We took a tour of the Grand Bohemian Gallery and were introduced to the staff. The art at the gallery was exquisite and the team was knowledgeable and friendly.
The next day, we had a full schedule. The Next Original finalists were invited to the Amethyst ballroom to have an interview with Mr. Kessler and the press would be coming later too. I was a nervous wreck just thinking of having to speak, because in general, I am not a good speaker, not to mention talking on the camera, and with someone who you greatly admire, such as Mr. Kessler. To my surprise, as soon as Mr. Kessler started asking me questions, I felt myself calm down. He had such a sweet and friendly personality that I felt like I was just having a casual conversation with a friend. He is such a charming gentleman, and I adore his southern accent!
I was interviewed by The South magazine, and the local FOXNEWS:
Plant Riverside national art competition wraps up in Savannah | WTGS (fox28savannah.com)
Plant Riverside District to Host Final Judging, Unveil Winner of National Artist Search on Dec. 16 – South Magazine
Plant Riverside District to Host Final Judging, Unveil Winner of “The Next Original” National Artist Search – Savannah CEO
During our break between the interviews and the judging ceremony, we explored the hotel. Among the high-end restaurants and shops, the design of this hotel was like no other
Mr. Kessler is not only an art collector, but also a collector of crystals and artifacts. Huge boulders of split and polished semiprecious stones were planted on the main floor, like a playground for a gigantic stainless-steel dinosaur, the size of the entire length and height of the hotel. The walls were complemented by gorgeous original paintings – such an inspiring and stunning place to visit!
But what I appreciated the most was the hospitality and how welcomed I felt to be a guest. Everybody was so kind, welcoming, attentive, and made sure we had everything we needed to be comfortable.
All of the artists got along with each other so well that it didn’t feel like a competition anymore. We were cheering each other on and hoped each other would win.
The judging ceremony was beautiful! There were mood setting decoration in the style of New York City, with street signs of the names of streets in New York with New Year’s decorations, and even a live jazz band. The food was delicious as well!
Mr. Kessler himself made the announcements. He said that he liked all of the finalists work so much that he couldn’t choose only one – all ten finalists were announced as winners! Such a generous and kind decision, all of us artists were so grateful and happy!
I want to dedicate a special paragraph for the organizers of this competition, they worked so hard to make this happen! So many things were involved and orchestrated! It looked and felt effortless, which could be only done by top notch professionals who love to do what they do. Everything went smoothly: the flights, the hotel, the food, the press, the camera crew, the interviews, the ceremony, the parties – it just couldn’t get any better! I felt constant support and was cheered on all the way through. I’m so grateful and excited for this opportunity and the new friendships I made along the way.So what will happen now? First and foremost, our paintings will rotate on a billboard in Times Square at New Year’s Eve (and the day after), just where the crystal ball drops.
More importantly, however, we will be exclusively represented by Bohemian Galleries in all the locations. I started working on the paintings already, you can see my progress on Instagram!
So what will happen now? First and foremost, our paintings will rotate on a billboard in Times Square at New Year’s Eve (and the day after), just where the crystal ball drops.
More importantly, however, we will be exclusively represented by Bohemian Galleries in all the locations. I started working on the paintings already, you can see my progress on my Instagram!
Happy New Year dear friends!
May 2023 bring you much joy, fun, peace, love, and success!
Big hug and much love,
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