It's only been a few months since 52 people waited outside Art Post Gallery's door for the store to open on the morning of Feb. 28. People were so eager to participate in the Botany Magnified contest they couldn't wait for the store to open.
On Thursday night, Art Post invited all the artists back to the shop, and announced winners and honorable mentions from the gallery's first Botany Magnified art contest.
There were 81, locally-made canvas tiles on display and at least 200 people in the shop when the winners were announced. Winning artists were chosen by several local art experts, including Vicky McHugh and Ellen Duffy of Northfield's Avenue Interiors design firm.
"It was overwhelming at first," Duffy said about the judging process. "We thought, which of these would we want for our own home?"
The judges had to pick contest winners based on three criteria: did artists follow the rules of botany magnified? Was the piece creative? How was the piece executed?
"We decided there had to be honorable mentions because there were so many we really liked," McHugh said of the 81 submissions.
The three winners of Art Post's Botany Magnified project are, in no particular order: Joan Giacobetti of Northbrook, Kathy Kathrein of Northbrook and Jan Borre of Wilmette.
"I'm dumbfounded," Borre said of winning. "I haven't painted in 30 years, I just started painting again a year ago."
Borre painted a close-up of a pine cone in an untitled piece done with acrylic paint.
"I wanted something that magnified, you weren't sure what it was," she said. "I wanted people to think about it."
Borre, a teacher at the Wilmette Park District, is also a member of the New Trier Extension art class, which provided several contestants to the contest. Other local groups that represented the North Shore in Botany Magnified were the Glenview Art League, the Northbrook Senior Center and the Evanston Art Center.
Kathrein, another of the contest winners, said she's been painting her whole life and used to teach art at Zion Junior High.
She works with a painting group at the Northbrook Leisure Center, and says close-ups of botany and nature are her specialty.
Kathrein's piece, "Make a Wish and Blow" is an oil on canvas showing a close-up of a dandelion about to spread its seeds. The painting was based on a photo Kathrein made.
The honorable mentions were Joyce Davis of Northbrook, Deb Anderson of Glenview and Tanya Klatt of Glenview.
Art Post's owner, Christina Bates, said the gallery was just about at capacity during the party.
"I am so pleased," she said. "It was an enthusiastic group all round."
The canvases will remain on display at the gallery until May 5 and are on sale for $150. Bates said she already sold six canvases during the party.