Two local residents - Yuki Bito and Sarah Sheley - win top honors for their original "Card Art" designs of "Middletown Memories." Both will be featured on the Town's holiday cards as a way to help build community spirit and highlight talent in Middletown.
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CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 712-2221 or email@example.com
2021 CARD ART WINNERS ANNOUNCED
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (DECEMBER 2, 2021) – The two winners of the second annual Middletown Holiday Card Art Contest 2021 were announced this week.
In the adult category, local resident and Japanese Naval Captain Yuki Bito took home the top honors with her watercolor painting of two bright red cardinals with Second Beach and St. George’s Chapel as a backdrop.
“Having moved to Middletown, I met the cardinal for the first time in my life and was impressed by its beauty,” Bito said. “Second Beach with St. George’s has always healed my heart when I was having a hard time. I wanted to express these in a picture somehow.”
In the youth category, Gaudet Middle School sixth grader Sarah Sheley won with her drawing of the windmill at Paradise Valley Park decorated with holiday lights, with a snowy owl and snowman checking in on the action. Sarah is the daughter of Middletown Public Affairs Officer Matt Sheley.
“The windmill I drew had a lot of wonderful memories running through my family, so I decided to add Christmas lights to show this fabulous season,” Sarah said. “The snowy owl crossing over the moonlit sky shows the great outdoors of Sachuest Point. I thought the snowman would show the spirit of snow people being built in Middletown and snow storms would show another great effect of the winter season and Middletown memories.”
The Card Art contest is run by Maureen D. Maurer, the executive assistant to Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown. Maurer has said the contest is a great way to showcase the work of local artists and bring the community that much closer together.
The winning artwork will be used as part of the Town’s annual holiday cards that are mailed throughout the community.
“Our tradition of sending holiday greetings to employees, volunteers and other people connected to the Town of Middletown is made all that more special by sharing the unique creations of Yuki and Sarah,” Maurer said. “Their artwork captures how special our community is and what a beautiful place Middletown is, making the holiday card an appropriate expression of our appreciation for those who work for and support the Town.”
Speaking with the Town, Bito said she was honored to be named as a “Card Art” winner. She’s been working at the U.S. Naval War College as a liaison officer and a military professor since 2018.
Hearing about the “Card Art” contest from a story in “Newport This Week,” Bito said she submitted her work this year after her schedule freed up a bit.
“Art heals my heart,” Bito said. “It also gives me courage when I think about the artist's thoughts about the work.”
She said she likes working with watercolors and ukiyo-e painting, or woodblock print. Asked why art was important, Bito said it played a vital role in the human condition.
“To be honest, art is not a minimum requirement for living, unlike food, water, or a place to sleep,” Bito said. “However, art can convey people's thoughts and pass down important culture. It is very important to give wisdom and courage to people from the past to the future.”
Sarah said it’s uncommon for a day to pass without her doing some type of original art.
“In my free time, I like to be creative and artistic,” Sarah said. “By doing that, I write in my diary and add special effects to my scrapbook. This helps me remember fun moments in my life.”
Hearing about the art contest last year from a friend who entered and won — Layne Stevens — Sarah said she made a pledge to enter in 2021.
“When I was a little girl, my drawings were not perfected to the detail in this piece,” Sarah said. “Now I want my art viewers to see my pictures in different ways, to show more detail and create an emotion to my story.”
Part of that process is to convey a certain message or feeling, Sarah said.
“When I sit down to make an art piece, I normally go for a cute, aesthetic vibe because I find the colors to be pleasing to the eye and pop off the paper,” Sarah said. “Sometimes, I do go for a harder way of art, that’s when I really start to perfect every last detail. The supplies I use for my art are normally alcohol markers, a black fine liner, and a white out pen. This really brings out the pages when I go for my kawaii (cute in Japanese) look when drawing.”
Like Bito, Sarah said she enjoys using art as a way to express herself.
“Art is such a fantastic way to express how you feel when making such intricate pieces,” Sarah said. “When I make my art I feel relaxed and have time for myself to unwind.”