A teen from London wins a $100,000 art prize – in her first-ever competition

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A 17-year-old high school student in London won one of the world’s richest art awards.

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Lara Denise Almagro, a 12th grader at John Paul II Catholic High School, won the $100,000 People’s Choice Award Thursday night at the opening of the Artcombe exhibit, organized by 100 Kellogg Lane. She won for her drawing, bittersweet.

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“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Almagro, weeping in front of a crowd of several hundred art lovers and friends. “This is my first time participating in an art competition. I am only 17 years old. I am very grateful to my father.”

Artist Sage Szkapamiki-Stuart of Kimball, North Owen Sound, won a $100,000 Painting Choice Award, selected by a group of experts, for her photographic piece, Urban Bath, Self-Portrait.

100 Kellogg Lane’s Art Comp is open to professional and amateur artists from around the world and has over 900 entries, with artists allowed to enter up to three pieces each. The field was reduced to 100 pieces before public voting began in May for the People’s Choice Award and ended on September 4.

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Archie Leach, co-owner of 100 Kellogg Lane, gave an emotional speech to kick off the presentations.

“The artists are the stars of this show,” Leech said. “These people have invested their lives in pieces of art. Every artist here has made the lives of the people who work here and come here better. It is an experience I will never forget. This is a special place we are building here and we will do so much for art and culture.”

The company, which is building 100 Kellogg Lane into a center for arts and culture, hopes to make Art Comp an annual event, making it one of the world’s top 15 art awards.

The building east of downtown was used to house the cereal manufacturer until it closed its doors in 2014. The building continues to grow as an entertainment complex, featuring Powerhouse Brewing Co. , indoor adventure park Club House, The Factory, Paradigm Spirits Co. And soon the London Children’s Museum.

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This fall, the company will be hosting Imagine Van Gogh, the immersive exhibition that has impressed everyone.

Almagro was born in the Philippines and moved to London in 2019.

“It’s amazing, I’m so proud of her,” said her mother, Amy Lo, who was at the party.

The win was astonishing for Almagro, who has embraced art as a hobby and hopes to go to university to study medicine with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.

“I do side art for a hobby, so no, I wasn’t expecting all of this,” the teen said.

Artist Sage Szkapamike Stewart's photographic piece, Urban Bath, won a $100,000 painting prize at the inaugural Art Comp competition organized by 100 Kellogg Lane in London.
Artist Sage Szkapamike Stewart’s photographic piece, Urban Bath, won a $100,000 painting prize at the inaugural Art Comp competition organized by 100 Kellogg Lane in London.

Szkabamicki-Stuart, who was returning home from a solo exhibition in Mahone Harbor, Nova Scotia, was not at the reception but was delighted when approached by phone.

“I went in because I wanted to be a part of what was going on there,” Szkapamiki Stewart said. “I have a lot of friends, a lot of great artists, who were going in, so I definitely wasn’t expecting this.”



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