The 2014 edition of Retail as Art, an annual competition showcasing the best photographic talent in Dallas-area high schools, returns with a milestone: The organization will issue more than $10,000 in scholarships — double last year's amount.
Meanwhile, the number of participants has increased dramatically. This annual event is open to high school students, and their photos must exhibit a retail theme. Last year's contest drew more than 60 student participants and more than 200 submissions.
This year saw entries from 165 students and 21 schools. The awards (and scholarships) will be presented at a ceremony on April 9 at 129 Leslie, an event space in the Dallas Design District.
"We are humbled by the generosity and support of our clients, colleagues and business partners," said Mickey Ashmore, CEO of United Commercial Realty (UCR) and founder of Retail as Art.
In 2008, UCR created Retail as Art as a 5013c organization, to give back to the community. All proceeds benefit the UCR Retail as Art Fund, exclusively for educational and charitable purposes.
Participating students submitted their images by March 8. A panel of judges will gather on March 13 to choose the winners.
Another new twist: An Instagram category was added this year. "By adding Instagram, we are able to reach a larger group of student photographers," said Kendall Schiffler, UCR's marketing director. "Our goal is to interest more students by tweaking our format over time."
Judges include Evans Caglage, Dallas Morning News; commercial photographer Wade Griffith; Lisa Petty, DFW Style Daily; Samantha Sano, SWOON, the studio; Bernard Underwood, An Intimate Place; Jeyson Paez, @InstaDFW (Instagram judge); and this reporter.
The venture also has support from a group of bloggers who will serve as patrons to raise the program's profile: Cynthia Smoot, Oh So Cynthia; Betsy Mitchell, The Dallas Socials and Lip Gloss and High Heels; Jennifer Buxton, Real Posh Mom; Lea Ann Stundins, Mommy’s Wish List; and Courtney and Allison Edwards, Where Wear in the City.
The Retail as Art program culminates with a gallery-style exhibition and awards ceremony at 129 Leslie on April 9 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The event will showcase the top submissions, with hors d'oeuvre from Bolsa Mercado, tunes by DJ Blake Ward and the opportunity for students to mingle with judges and sponsors. Prints of the winning photographs will be on sale at the event.