Children's art graces cover of new Marco Island Marriott menus

With summer almost upon us and school on Marco winding down until August, Marriott's Marco Island Beach Resort Director of Restaurants Yosseff Oualidi made a special welcome on Saturday morning to congratulate the winners of a very special artist competition.

The artistic champions and winning recipients of the Superstar Artist Awards Celebration were present with their families at a breakfast celebration at Marriott's Tropiks restaurant and were in attendance with their Tommie Barfield art teacher Kathy Anderson. "We are very proud to honor the winners of our recent art competition with the award of a superstar celebration and breakfast," The Marriott restaurateur explained. "We select four superstars every two years to create the artwork for the cover of our new menu at Tropiks restaurant. We believe this is a big honor because the artwork chosen from the Tommie Barfield second grade class will be seen and enjoyed by people from all over the world."

The latest quest for artistic talent began last month when Yosseff Oualidi contacted art teacher Kathy Anderson and asked if the Tommie Barfield second grade kids were up for another creative challenge. The art competition two years ago was a great success and produced a memorable menu cover but now it was time for new images of paradise from the imaginative perspective of eight-year-olds living on or near Marco Island.

"There were over a hundred exciting entries," Kathy Anderson explained, "From almost everyone in the second grade class and now we have four published artists and artwork that visitors from around the world will see and enjoy every day."

The assignment given to the second graders was simple and the theme for the new restaurant menu familiar to anyone on Marco.

"I told the kids that the contest was going to be fun because the topic was anything to do with the beach." Ms. Kathy coached. "Absolutely anything: Mermaids, sailboats, umbrellas, any animals in the water or at the beach, and anything that would be bright and colorful."

The assignment began with the children selecting their subject matter and starting with a rough draft created in pencil. The next step was to make corrections and outline the important parts with a purple or brown marker. After the initial outline was complete the paper was held up to the classroom window for back lighting. With the window and natural light acting as a light board, the third stage of the artwork was traced again to eliminate any earlier mistakes or eraser marks. The final step was to outline the new and most perfect edition with a sharpie and then color the various features with a water color marker or Prisma-colored Art-Stix.

Eight-year-old Noah Blaskovich was selected among the final four winners for his Green Lizard adaptation of the little reptiles that are never far away from anyone on Marco Island. When asked why he chose the lizard as his subject matter Noah explained: "I have a lizard as a pet and I like them a lot."

Nicole Geddis was also awarded a position among the top four artists for her depiction of the big crescent beach on Marco. "I like the sand and the ocean," Nicole offered with a smile, "And I really like the colors at the Marriott."

Nicole Rodriguez was another of the four artists chosen out of a hundred contenders and she explained that her artistic vision captured: "Two persons under an umbrella on the beach. The beach," Nicole made clear, "Always has some pretty Umbrellas."

Molly Meyer was chosen as a winner with her: "Great big sunshine and girls on the beach." Molly was not present for the Marriott celebration as she was celebrating in Disney World in Orlando. Molly was however, represented by her mother Mary Meyer.

When asked how they felt about winning the Superstar Artist Awards Celebration, all the kids had the same answer. "We felt very excited and very proud."

"This was a very difficult decision to pick the winners," the Director of restaurants confessed. "The entire staff from Tropiks took time with all the entries as did Food and Beverage director Charlie Albanos and Executive Chef Juan Martinez. I think I can speak for our entire team," Youssef explained, "When I say that all the entries were very good but the four that were finally chosen really looked right for our new breakfast menu."

To kick off the breakfast superstar celebration Kathy Anderson held up her cocktail class filled with apple juice and a cherry and toasted her students. "I am so very proud of my students because now you are published artists."

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