BMO Announces Top Graduating Student Artists in Canada

    Distinct and diverse artwork created by 14 outstanding artists from
    across the country win top awards at the 6th annual BMO 1st Art!
    Invitational Student Art Competition

    TORONTO, Aug. 14 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group today announced one national
and 13 regional winners of the only national graduating artist competition in
Canada, the BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition.

    The remarkable works of art produced by the 2008 winners cover a range of
themes in a variety of mediums including:

    -   A photograph illustrating the human ambition for flight;
    -   An abstract oil painting representing the congestion of urban
    -   A digital print questioning the struggle of living up to an
        unattainable standard;
    -   A mitten and hat set celebrating modern aboriginal heritage through
        traditional clothing.

    The competition received 162 entries from every province and territory
across Canada, a testament to the prestige and esteem of the BMO 1st Art!
awards. The winning works showcase the diverse influences and artistic visions
of this country, with each piece reflecting the unique nature of the artists
and the communities in which they live and study.
    BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition is a celebration of the
creative excellence of art students from post-secondary institutions across
Canada. Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and
degree programs in visual art are invited to select three students from their
graduating classes whose ability and imagination place them first among their
peers. A distinguished panel of judges chooses an overall national winner and 
one winner from each province and territory.

    2008 Winners

    BMO 1st Art! 2008 National Winner:
    Jeremy Jeresky, Alberta College of Art & Design

    BMO 1st Art! 2008 Regional Winners:

    Alberta                  - Penny Chase, Alberta College of Art & Design

    British Columbia         - Alistair Rance, University of British
                               Columbia, Okanagan

    Manitoba                 - Maria Baker, University of Manitoba

    New Brunswick            - Cheryl Ryan, New Brunswick College of Craft &

    Newfoundland             - Stephanie Power, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College,
                               Memorial University

    Northwest Territories    - Ruth Wright, Aurora College

    Nova Scotia              - Thomas Chisholm, Nova Scotia College of Art &

    Nunavut                  - Jamasee Pitseolak, Nunavut Arctic College

    Ontario                  - Devin Jeffrey, Ryerson University

    Prince Edward Island     - Stephanie Martens, Holland College

    Quebec                   - Keren Epstein, Concordia University

    Saskatchewan             - Rowan Pantel, University of Saskatchewan

    Yukon Territory          - Mitch Holder, Klondike Institute of Arts &

    The national winner receives $5,000 and the regional winners each receive
$2,500 for his or her artwork. The national winner's artwork will become part
of the BMO Corporate Art Collection, which includes historical and
contemporary Canadian masters such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Emily Carr, Paterson
Ewen, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Lawren Harris, Ian Wallace and many others.
    "The winning 1st Art! submissions provide a glimpse into the studios of
art schools across the country that few outsiders see," said Dawn Cain,
Curator, BMO Financial Group, Corporate Art Collection. "It's clear that there
is a lot of exciting work being produced in our cegeps, colleges and
universities - we are delighted to celebrate the accomplishments of these
exceptional artists."
    "Year after year, I am amazed at the superb calibre of talent and
creativity of Canada's new artists," said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO,
Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group, and Deputy Chair, BMO Nesbitt
Burns. "By acknowledging these outstanding graduating students, it is our hope
that BMO 1st Art! can give our 2008 winners the motivation to continue their
artistic careers, and in doing so, find their place in Canada's dynamic
artistic community."
    Mr. Ouellette and Ms. Cain served as selection committee members for the
6th annual BMO 1st Art! Competition, along with art luminaries Camilla Singh,
Curator, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; Landon Mackenzie, Artist; Gary
Michael Dault, Arts Critic; and Steve Loft, Curator in Residence, Indigenous
Art, National Gallery of Canada.
    Representing the best of Canada's newest generation of artists, all of
the BMO 1st Art! winners' works will be on display at the Museum of
Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) 952 Queen Street West in Toronto from
October 7 to 26, 2008. The winning pieces can also be viewed on BMO Financial
Group's website at:

    Since 1817, BMO Financial Group has believed in community reinvestment
and corporate and social responsibility to the communities it serves. BMO
contributes millions of dollars each year in corporate donations, sponsorships
and events, supporting thousands of communities, charities and not-for-profit
organizations in Canada. In 2006, BMO was the recipient of a Globe and Mail
Business for the Arts Award, which recognizes "outstanding partnerships
between business and the arts" and in 2005, BMO was named Best Corporate
Citizen of the Year in Canada by Corporate Knights magazine.

For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries: BMO Financial Group, Deborah
Rowe, Toronto,, (416) 867-4897; Ronald Monet, Montreal,, (514) 877-1101; Laurie Grant, Vancouver,, (604) 665-7596; Applause Communications, Holly Beetham,
Toronto,, (416) 217-0700 ext. 301

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