It was the young man’s dreadlocks that caught Diana DeSantis’ eye.
He was attending an event at the Art Students League in Manhattan, and DeSantis was immediately struck by his expressive face and gentle manner. She asked if he would pose for her, and he accepted.
Now, hanging in the Fort Totten castle for the Bayside Historical Society’s annual art show, the pastel portrait she created bears a blue ribbon.
The show, called Celebration of the Arts, is now in its ninth incarnation. Starting with just a handful of pieces by participants of a historical society workshop, the event has grown to include 40 artists from across the borough.
The artists range from seasoned professionals to budding newbies, and their works run the gamut from photographs to abstract paintings.
There are depictions of water lilies and sunsets, elephants and sand dunes, sensual figures and corn cribs. There’s even a sculpture of a television with hands reaching out of it, entitled “Fork over the Moola, Baby.”
The award-winning works vary greatly in style. DeSantis’ portrait is almost photographically realistic — a calm snapshot of a striking individual.
In contrast, Demetrios Manouselis, whose painting “PO 9 Mar 10.01a” took second place, focuses on abstract form. His work shows a series of geometric shapes, mostly in earth tones, punctuated by a splash of turquoise.
Luis Caraos’ “Tinkling Dance,” which came in third, is a colorful painting of a lively village festival.
DeSantis says her portraits aren’t meant to convey profound messages; she simply seeks to “capture the person’s essence.”
“I love painting people,” she said. “I’ll ask any person to pose. Sometimes it could be on the checkout line at the grocery store.”
Complete strangers are usually surprised when she asks to do their portraits, but DeSantis says many oblige, despite the arduous task of sitting perfectly still for hours on end.
Manouselis likewise says his work doesn’t have a deep inner meaning; he simply strives to create “a harmonious visual whole.”
“I’m basically just searching for ways to express visual ideas,” Manouselis said. “They’re not paintings about specific things or subject matters. It’s really just a matter of composition.”
Celebration of the Arts
When: Thurs.-Fri. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.;Sat. noon-4 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Through Jan. 30.
Where: Bayside Historical Society, Fort Totten, Bayside,
Suggested donation: $3