W - Womans club officers

CAROL TATE/ Photo special to Alachua County Today

Officers of the High Springs Woman's Club. (L-R): Billie Jo Benedict, Sallie Milner, Windy Phillips, Barbara Miller, Katy Evens, Patti Lamneck, Vicky cox and Lillian Jenkins.

HIGH SPRINGS – At the beginning of each year, members of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs (GFWC) present their best arts and crafts projects for judging on a local level. This year, entries competing in about 50 arts and crafts categories were delivered to the 86-year-old GFWC New Century Woman’s Club meeting house for judging on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

      Competitive categories include photography, water color painting, quilting and more.

      The results of this year’s judging are to be announced on Thursday, Jan. 9, at the GFWC Woman’s Club monthly luncheon. This is the first step in a larger district, state and, ultimately, a national competition to determine the best arts and crafts projects from woman’s clubs throughout the country.

      Brenda Hoffman, of Palm Bay, art chair of the State Convention Exhibit, talked about how much the artists contribute to their communities.

      “These women give so much to their community every year, much of which is not recognized,” she said. “This is our way of giving them recognition.”

      “The winners get ribbons and bragging rights for a whole year,” she said.

      The top local projects will be awarded blue ribbons and will be submitted for judging at the District Five GFWC Arts and Crafts competition in Gainesville on March 1. The first place winners of the Jan. 8 judging in High Springs’ will be judged again at that time, along with the 14 other woman’s and junior woman’s clubs from Alachua, Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Marion counties, for submittal into the state-level competition.

      Winning District Five entrants will travel to Orlando and compete against all other districts in the state GFWC Florida Spring Convention, scheduled for April 25 through April 27.

      Last year’s state-wide competition led to the awarding of a third-place ribbon to High Springs’ club member Carole Tate for her handmade crocheted doll, an item she donated to Relay for Life for their fundraising auction.

      Ultimately, state-wide blue ribbon winners are chosen to go on to compete nationally at the GFWC Woman’s Club national convention, scheduled this year to be held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa in Chandler, Ariz., on June 21 through June 24.

      Judges at all levels are chosen for their artistic abilities, background and talent and cannot be chosen from the Woman’s Club roster. Each judge must be a non-club member in order to qualify.

      This year’s local judge is Cootie Coo Creations’ owner Sharon Kantor, whose shop has been a hub for scrapbooking, rubber-stamping and art-related classes in High Springs for the past five years.

      Kantor has a Masters in Industrial Arts from Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., with specialization in drafting, crafts and graphic arts. She taught graphic arts, photography and drafting in Miami before traveling and finally settling in High Springs. Kantor also has been event chair for Relay for Life for the past two years and has created her own line of stamps, known as Kantorkards.

      “Every month, a different service program committee conducts a meeting,” said Joyce Hallman, chairman of the Arts Community Service Program this year.

      “This month is our turn.”

      Kantor will be the featured speaker at the Thursday, Jan. 9, Woman’s Club luncheon and will teach participants how to make their own greeting cards using stamps, buttons and other items for embellishment.

      The Arts Community Service Program is chaired by Joyce Hallman and co-chaired by Barbara Bluhm. Committee members are Marion Dolan, Ellie Hubler, Mary Sears, Carole Tate, Liz Taylor, Terry Walsh and Debbie Wolnewitz.

      The Woman’s Club’s commitment to the arts dates back to 1894, when a literature committee was established. The committee rapidly grew to encompass programs focusing on arts and music. Clubwomen became known for their support of the arts and are credited with helping to establish the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

      The club, which has served High Springs for more than 110 years, is located in the Historic District of High Springs, next door to High Springs City Hall, and currently encourages youth and elder art projects and art shows in the community.

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