Best Of 2013

Best Artist With Guts
Art by Boy Kong

Boy Kong 

Play Nice, Die Young at Peacock Room, May 2013
900 Lives at CityArts Factory, June 2013

Orlando artist Boy Kong first wowed us with his spectacular 3-D painted-wood works displayed at Tako Cheena last October (Anti-Happy Story Time), and that was before we found out that he’s only 19 years old. Following his first Art Basel Miami Beach show in December, Kong has been working relentlessly to fill gallery walls. His May show at Peacock Room, Play Nice, Die Young, was “inspired by the Greeks’ ‘black-figure’ paintings,” he said, and gave us a glimpse into the guts of some of Kong’s spirit animals. But it was his contribution to June’s B-Side Artists Annual Showcase, 900 Lives, that really stunned us. Kong hand-cut and painted 100 seemingly identical maneki-neko (“lucky cat”) prints, each “gifted with their own human touch/flaws.” Boy Kong’s YouTube videos reveal a young artist willing to invest the hard work necessary to bring his wooden menagerie to life.

Best Comic Book Based on a Visit to Central Florida


So What? Press

The Atlantic Center for the Arts, our New Smyrna Beach gem of cutting-edge creativity-slash-Skinner box experiment in cultural deprivation for visiting artists, recently hosted an all-cartoonist residency. In October 2012, a group of comics creators got together for three weeks of imagination incubation, and this book is the record of their days. Ellen Forney, Dean Haspiel, Megan Kelso, Lara Antal, Sean Ironman and 20 more contribute short strips, ranging in tone from the snarky to the introspective, on the themes of “tropical isolation,” the “wondrous blur of creative freedom” and “other primordial nature.”

Best Local Instructional Cartoonist

Dawn Schreiner

Showcasing her recent portrait series of U.S. vice presidents, along with quirky commemorations of noteworthy dates, Maitland artist Dawn Schreiner’s Facebook wall is full of miniature illustrated lessons on life and history. Did you know that soldiers assigned to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier “can never drink alcohol or swear in public for the rest of their lives”? We didn’t either, until we read her recent Memorial Day post. Schreiner, who’s worked as a courtroom sketch artist and commercial illustrator, delights in revealing surprising or serious information with uncharacteristic whimsy. “I don’t know that I would recognize a person drowning if they were right in front of me,” Schreiner writes in one blog post, before offering a haunting (but lovely) annotated illustration of what a woman drowning actually looks like.

Best Public Breakup
Photo by Jorgen Nicholas Trygved


Friday, April 19, 2013, at the Venue

Interpreting the stages of a breakup through performance art sounds painful in more ways than one, but the exceptional imagination that local artist Jessica Earley brought to this production translated that emotional scarring so well, the show managed to equally brand our memory. Clever choreography, an Internet spirit guide and a hilarious relic from her relationship (a blanket with a life-size photo of her ex printed on it) injected humor, but her fearless re-enactment of still-fresh feelings was what pushed showgoers to reject any criticism.