The Cultural Arts Alliance held its annual A+Art Top of the Class exhibit opening reception last Friday night and saw a first-time entry go to Top of the Class.

Niceville resident Theresia McInnis won Best in Show for her watercolors of "Bromeliads Gone Wild." This was McInnis's first time to enter the CAA's A+Art competitions and McInnis's first Best in Show win.

Juror and judge Brian Jekel from Pensacola Christian College said, “Overall I saw a show that had a real sense of creativity, design, color, and craftsmanship. I loved the diversity and thoughtfulness that went into these works.”

McInnis's piece was inspired by her visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden while visiting her daughter in Miami.

A retired school teacher, McInnis took up painting as a hobby when, fresh out of college, she moved to Niceville in the 1970s.

"We moved here when all there was here was sand," she said with a chuckle.

While everyone has done their obligatory paintings of the sand, beaches, and dunes, McInnis said she mostly finds her inspiration for paintings during her frequent travels.

McInnis is one of 27 artists to be juried into the A+Art exhibit. She entered two pieces.

Other artist's work juried into the exhibit include Susan Alfieri, Charlotte Arnold, Melody Bogle, Donnelle Clark, Heather Clements, Maria Dante, Judy Dewar, Carol Dickson, Joanna Ellington, Allison Hicks, Dinett, Hok, JoAnne Jones, Lois Kennedy, Suzanne LeLoup-West, Bonita Loman, Susan Lucas, Theresia McInnis, Kristina Perry, Susan Richardson, Kathleen Schumacher, Janet and Steve Thomas, Tanis Thomas, Joan Vienot, Richard Weber, Ann Welch, Lynn Wilson, and Mary Zahner.

Merit Award winners  included “Moonlight Glimmer” by  Susan Lucas, “Identity” by Heather Clements, and “Red Kimono” by Charlotte Arnold.

Honorable Awards were given to “The Rise of the Sun on the Dunes of Grayton Beach” by Melody Bogle, “Fish of Many Colors” by Ann Welch, “Tate’s Hell” by Lynn Wilson, and “Joyful Journey” by Donnelle Clark.

“Top of the Class” is a juried art exhibition presented by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County in partnership with Northwest Florida State College. The A+Art Committee's mission is to showcase the work of Cultural Arts Alliance member artists and to enhance the public spaces of the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College. 

The exhibit will be on display at the South Walton Center of NWFSC until May 30.