Two talented young artists won iPads for their participation in the Benicia Tree Art Challenge at Benicia’s Third Annual Arbor Day Celebration Saturday, October 15, 2011. Jonathan Park, an eighth grade student at Benicia Middle School, received first prize for his graphite rendering of trees in City Park from Mayor Elizabeth Patterson. Angela Jennings, also an eighth grade student at Benicia Middle School, received second prize from Vice Mayor Alan Schwartzman for her rendering of a tree at the historic Lundin House. The two winners were selected by a jury of artists and tree experts in Benicia from a total of 14 student entries. Ms. Pat Hall, Art Teacher at Benicia Middle School for both of the winning students, will also be the recipient of a plaque commemorating her role and acknowledging the talent of students at Benicia Middle School.
The 2011 Tree Art Challenge was created by the Benicia Tree Foundation in collaboration with the City of Benicia to engender intellectual engagement with trees in the community and to encourage students in Benicia to think differently when considering the urban forest around them. The winning students and their work are featured on the Benicia Tree Foundation website along with photos of them receiving their awards.
"The trees of Jenson Park have watched over our community year after year. These trees in particular reflect a bond that brings our town together. These trees have listened to the pops of fireworks during the 4th of July Parade. They have watched as young artists learn to create during Arts in the Park. In the summer sun our trees shelter families when they celebrate birthdays as children play in the shade they provide. Even when the streets are vacant and the cold of winter begins to creeps in, anyone walking by can feel a little less alone and a little warmth and care as any community should. They are a symbol of life in the little town of Benicia. As the seasons change and time passes, they truly make up the heart and soul of First Street."
– Jonathan Park
"Long limbs in front of simple building, veined with wood grain and stained with shadow. Behind a spotty white fence with dark splotches of darkness. Foliage swirling, darkening and spiraling into light. Graying skies of early fall and pale sunset. I chose this image because of its subtle beauty and suburb-ish touches. It also looks somewhat old, which I think gives a charming touch. I see this tree as reaching toward the heavens not simply for life-sustaining nutrition, but also for purpose and freedom. The tree has a personality as well, simple but deep. Simple because trees are often passed by and thought of nothing else but a tree, but deep because with each year it grows, perceiving and witnessing without eyes many important events and feelings in passing peoples' lives, adding to the age of the tree. This picture speaks to me, saying "I have been, I have given, I am strong." Trees give out oxygen to us somewhat needy humans, and take our wastes and turn it into something useable. They stand as a symbol of peace, strength, and the world we live in. Trees are truly remarkable. I do not know the species of the tree, but the location and the building behind the tree is the Lundin House of Antiques in Downtown (First Street) Benicia." – Angela Jennings