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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


‘Best’ in show: oil painter first place in Paint Berlin

(Sept. 24, 2015) Christopher Best, 31, took home the top prize during last weekend’s Paint Berlin, winning $1,000 for his oil painting “Peach Shack.”
The annual Worcester County Arts Council plein air competition, which ran Sept. 17-19, drew 35 artists from across the region and concluded with a “Wet Paint” show and sale at the council’s gallery on Saturday.
Best, who grew up just outside of Annapolis, said he heard about the competition while participating in an Ocean City plein air event with his wife last month.
A photographer, Best said he has been painting on a daily basis for about eight years, and that he enjoys the direct nature of the art form.
In Berlin, Best said his strategy was, “to do one painting and focus on it.”
“In OC, I did about five paintings,” he said. “This time I wanted to really focus on one piece. Ironically, the painting I did to warm up was the one that ended up winning.”
Winning first place for his 8 x 10-inch “warm-up” painting of an organic fruit and vegetable market was not something he expected.
“I was genuinely surprised,” he said. “A lot of people said really nice things about my work but I wasn’t really expecting to win.”
Best said he definitely would take part in the competition again next year.
“The town is very charming, the artists were very positive about the event and the staff was helpful and genuine,” he said.
Berlin resident Laura Jenkins took home second place and $500 for her oil painting “Portrait with a Cellar Door,” and Matt Fenton of Baltimore won third place and $250 for his oil painting “Resting Thunder.”
Diane Hurwitz-Specht, from Frederick, won honorable mention and $100 for her oil painting “Taking Down the Mill,” and Lois Engberg won the People’s Choice award and $100 for “The Drying Line,” another oil painting.
Nancy Tankersley, herself a plein air painter and one of the primary organizers of the first Easton Plein Air Competition and Arts Festival, judged the competition.
“The quality of work was just outstanding this year,” said Anna Mullis, executive director of the Worcester County Arts Council. “A lot of artists who participated last year came back, but we also had a lot of artists from the western shore who read about the success of our event.”
Mullis said the artists produced more than 80 paintings, most of which will remain on display at the gallery through the end of October.  
“The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful and the artists just had a wonderful time,” she said.
The gallery at 6 Jefferson Street in Berlin is open Monday though Friday, as well as some Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 pm.
For information call 410-641-0809 or visit