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Artists capture beauty of live oaks
Carlos Gonzalez came from Savannnah to view all the different photos. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger

Senior Division (17 and up)
• 1st Place ($250): Kyle Ford, The Majestic Oak
• 2nd Place ($150): Winthrope Hiers, Oak Canopy
• 3rd Place ($75): Nancy Parker-Walters, All Fall Down-McQueen’s Inlet
• 4th Place ($25): Nanthan Larimer, Live Oak #11
• Honorable Mention: Mark Forehand, Live Oaks

Junior Division (10-16)
• 1st Place ($75): Libby Persse, Majestic Oak
• 2nd Place ($50): Claire Curtsinger, Oakmeal
• 3rd Place ($25): Sara Welsh, Untitled
• Honorable Mention: Kristina Laygo, Twisted Trunk
The Georgia coast is home to some of the country’s oldest and largest live oak trees. Through the years, their snarled arms and immense size have stirred muse-like inspiration in a host of Southern painters, writers and nature lovers. On Friday night, a group of area photographers who worked diligently to capture the majestic tree’s beauty showcased their oak-inspired art before a crowd at Melon Bluff Nature and Heritage Center in Sunbury.
The center’s first annual Georgia Arbor Day Photographic Competition featured lone judge Diane Kirkland, former Georgia state photographer and 2008 DNR artist-in-residence. Kirkland awarded prizes for both the senior division (17 and up) and the junior division (10-16).
Kirkland said she viewed about 27 different entries.
“It was very hard,” she said. “The final five were especially difficult.”
However, one entry stood out above all the rest. Kyle Ford, a graduate student at SCAD and a teacher at St. Vincent’s Academy, took first place.
“It [Ford’s piece] knocked my socks off,” Kirkland said.
The piece, titled “The Majestic Oak,” is about eight feet wide and three feet tall and, according to Ford, and was crafted using six 4-by-5 negatives that he scanned and stitched together using a computer photography program.
Ford, whose favorite photography subjects are landscapes and nature, said he was trying to capture the ideal tree and express a few other themes in his contest entry.
“I think it really embodies the South,” Ford said. “I’m proud to be involved in the contest, especially with Melon Bluff,” he said.
Other prize-winning contestants included Ludowici resident Nancy Parker-Walters, who took third place with her photo, “All Fall Down-McQueen’s Inlet.”
Laura Devendorf, owner of Melon Bluff, said they had entries come in from all over the Southeast and she was pleased to see some local winners.
“I was really impressed with what came in,” Devendorf said. “It’s just amazing how each one is different. They are all so personal.”
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