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Gallery walk has younger twist

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Jin Lim was all smiles at Friday night's Spring Gallery Walk in downtown Hays. Maybe because there was not a tornado in sight.

Lim is one of the youngest, if not the youngest exhibitor to win a cash prize at the 43rd annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition. Her water color figure drawing is on display through June 7 at Hays Arts Center, 112 E. 11th.

"Amazing," said Lim, a junior at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School. "This is really exciting."

Lim, also an accomplished musician, was preparing to play a flute solo at a competition in Great Bend earlier this month when tornado sirens went off.

"I like 'Wizard of Oz,' all I've heard, and there was a real tornado," Lim said with a laugh. "I had to evacuate."

Friday was an appreciation of Lim's artistic talent. Lim, 17, won a $300 cash prize, part of $2,500 awarded.

"To my knowledge, she's the youngest artist to ever receive a cash prize in the Smoky Hill," said Brenda Meder, executive director of Hays Arts Council. "It's a very significant accomplishment, absolutely."

Out of 261 pieces submitted to a professional judge, Lim's was one of 70 selected for display.

"It's a small water color study, but handled just very beautifully," Meder said. "A great deal of maturity and sophistication for an artist that young."

Lim, who takes a Wednesday night art class at Fort Hays State University, did her award-winning piece in just 30 minutes while in class.

"I like water color the most because I can paint it quick," Lim said with a laugh. "I don't have much patience."

Lim, who is from Seoul, South Korea, has one more year at TMP, then it's off to college, where she hopes to pursue careers in both medicine and graphic design. She can put this award on her resume.

"I have gotten several awards before, but this definitely is a big deal," Lim said.

Lim feels lucky to have won an award.

"I just feel that I was very, very fortunate this time," she said.

But when she received her notification letter, Lim thought it was bad news.

"At first, I thought the letter was declined because it was really thin and the paper was really small," she said. "Then I started reading it, and it said $300 prize won, and I was (surprised)."

Lim said she eventually can put the money to good use.

"I think I will save it for now -- maybe buy paints," she said.

Art is how she expresses herself.

"It just feels like myself," Lim said. "I feel like the best time of being me. I know more about myself. It's just very enjoyable."