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posted: 1/21/2014 2:20 PM

Arts Unlimited competition open to all in Dist. 214 community

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  • Joanne Rooney receives the second place award in prose for "Goodnight" from Eileen Daday at the 2013 annual Arts Unlimited reception.

       Joanne Rooney receives the second place award in prose for "Goodnight" from Eileen Daday at the 2013 annual Arts Unlimited reception.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Dennis Depcik talks about placing third in prose for "A Wanted Death" at the 2013 Arts Unlimited reception in Arlington Heights.

       Dennis Depcik talks about placing third in prose for "A Wanted Death" at the 2013 Arts Unlimited reception in Arlington Heights.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • The Arts Unlimited reception at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights last April.

       The Arts Unlimited reception at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights last April.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

Looking for a chance to take your works of prose, poetry or art out of your home studio and into the public eye? Here is your chance.

The Daily Herald Community Art & Writing Contest has returned, offering community members a chance to compete alongside Northwest Suburban High School District 214 students at the annual Arts Unlimited celebration.

Liz Schrenk, a former art teacher at Elk Grove High School and co-coordinator of Arts Unlimited, says more than 200 works are submitted every year. They range from short stories of 1,500 words or less, to poems and art entries that vary from photography to multimedia.

"Every year our judges are impressed by the volume and quality of submissions," Schrenk says, "and they find it hard to choose just three winners (in each discipline)."

Jennifer Aguilar-Iannotti, who co-coordinates Arts Unlimited with Schrenk and teaches art at Elk Grove High School, says most of the art entries in the past have been in traditional media, including drawings and paintings. But she expects that to change.

"With so many advances in digital cameras, I expect we'll see more photography this year," Aguilar-Iannotti said. "But the submissions we do get are generally very tight technically and have offer a new perspective on something traditional, like a still life."

Bill Leece of Schaumburg returns again to judge prose entries. He is a retired English teacher from Rolling Meadows High School, who looks for works that stand out from the rest.

"I'm hooked on writing that gives an extraordinary spin to what seems so ordinary," Leece says. "I like writing that's playful, with fresh comparisons and vibrant verbs, that makes the voyage such an exhilarating joy."

Last year, he found Joanne Rooney's short fiction about an 8-year-old girl learning to love a new mother, to be just that. She took second place and already this year, she is eyeing the contest deadline while working to finish another entry.

"I would not have written except for this opportunity and the affirmation my writing has received through the Art and Writing Contest," Rooney says. "Being a prize winner in last year's contest spurred me on to create and to continue to write. Yes!"

Dennis Depcik of Buffalo Grove had never entered a writing contest before, but his short story about the final stages of his wife's passing earned him third place.

"I wanted to see if my writing style and my story were poignant enough to catch the eye of a literary critic," Depcik says. "I felt I had something to share and wondered if my writing skills were capable of doing that."

They were. Placing in the contest, he says, inspired him to keep writing and finish a book on his love affair with his wife. It spans the letters they wrote while he was in the Army and she was just a teen, through their nearly 45 years of marriage and her eventual death.

"This contest was an important impetus in getting me to finish my book," says Depcik of his book, which he called, "Wouldn't It Be Something," and dedicated to his wife.

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