The Appleton Museum is set just slightly back from busy State Road 40, just moments away from Silver Springs State Park. The hidden gem of a museum has always strived to allow the citizens of Ocala to have an open and creative space to visit for art exhibits, art shows, and even art classes.
On October 13, it did just that by opening its doors to the 2nd Annual Mobile Photography Exhibition. The contest was open to people of all ages, even young children, to participate in whipping out their cell phones and finding something to photograph within the chosen categories that were offered this year.
“These kind of events spark our creative abilities,” said Erica McNulty, a participant in the contest and Graphic Design/Marketing Major at Rasmussen College. “And it lets us see what a camera can really do on a phone.”
Celebrating over 600 submissions, the opening reception was full of family and friends of the photographers that came to enjoy the open gallery, along with refreshments and an awards ceremony. The photographs were placed in an open gallery near the front of the museum, but on this special night the museum was open for all of the visitors to check out all of the exhibits available in the museum, free of charge.
There were four categories that photographs were submitted under, starting in the second week of September and continuing for four weeks before two judges chose the winners of the contest. The categories were “The Great Outdoors”, “Black & White”, “People of Marion County”, and “Patterns & Shapes”.
“The nature of the mobile photo lets everyone get included,” said Victoria Billig, Assistant Director of Museum Operations. “It definitely allowed for a wide variety and demographic of photos.”
All of the photos were judged by Ralph Demilio, a known photographer in Ocala that has been affiliated with Ocala Magazine, and Andrew Lowrey, who is a part of the College of Central Florida’s staff. There were three main categories photographers were able to be placed in: “Best in Category”, “People’s Choice”, and “This Makes Me Happy”.
There was also a final bonus category that one special photograph was placed in, which was the “Appleton Staff Pick”. According to Billig, the winner was incredibly difficult to pick out of so many submissions.
The “People’s Choice” photographs were chosen by followers of the Appleton Museum on Facebook. Some photographs had as many as 300 “likes” on Facebook.
“The user interaction was off the charts,” said Billig.
The “This Makes Me Happy” category was a very open category, allowing the judges to be able to choose a photo that simply made them happy. This category was chosen as opposed to a traditional “runner up” category.
Billig felt that this year’s event was a “hit” because the amount of submissions jumped from just a third of what was submitted last year when the Appleton held the contest, to about 200 participants and 600 photos this year.
“We had a tremendous response this year,” said Jen Boys, Graphic Design, Web and Public Relations Coordinator for the Appleton. “This event empowers kids to see their pictures in a museum and they’re thrilled about it.”
Prizes included 35 millimeter cameras, disposable camera “hack” kits, mobile camera “hack” kits, photos printed on canvas, and a “grab bag” of various items from the Appleton Museum gift shop. The prizes were received by the winners with smiling faces and a ton of applause in the background.
The photos will remain in the open gallery until October 18. CF students are permitted to view the gallery for free, along with free admission to the museum year-round. The Appleton Museum is already looking forward to hosting this event next year.
Story by: Ashleigh McVey.