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Art Beat: In Mama’s Embrace

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As an award-winning teacher at JD Floyd Elementary School and a mom, Spring Hill photographer Joan LoBianco always has kept family in focus. And now one of her portraits, capturing a tender moment between a mother bird and her precious chick, has won a major arts competition here in Hernando.

“In Mama’s Embrace,” has been named the winner of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, the City of Brooksville, and Brooksville Main Street’s Second Annual Art Competition.

“It was a warming photograph that captured a unique moment that I would be happy to hang on a wall in my home. It depicts Florida nature in a beautiful way,” said Mike Dolan, Arts Council member and treasurer.

“I took the photo at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. I spotted the mother and baby bird and followed them along the boardwalk. Then the light hit, the moment came, and I got the shot,” she said.

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Having inherited her love for photography from a father who excelled at the art, LoBianco has made a lifetime pursuit of getting the perfect shot. After receiving her first camera as a birthday gift at age 17, she studied photojournalism in college and became quickly renowned for her photographic skills. “My friends had a running joke; Where’s Joan? In the darkroom, always,” she said.

After meeting and marrying the love of her life in college and becoming a mother shortly before graduation, LoBianco became a stay at home mom. One who enjoyed a fruitful side gig as a professional photographer who shot weddings, family portraits, and photos of her own kids; one of whom went on to become a professional model. “I became the ‘click it’ mom,” she said.

This native New Yorker has become a fixture of the Hernando art scene, continuing her work as a professional photographer as she stays active in the Spring Hill Camera Club. Last year, she was named a top ten finalist in the 36th annual Art in the Park art competition. And now, she has emerged as the winner in the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, the City of Brooksville, and Brooksville Main Street’s Second Annual Art Competition.

LoBianco will receive her award and prizes at the Uptown City Gallery Reception May 14, from 5pm to 7pm. This event is free and open to the public. And at the Art Stroll in Downtown Brooksville, May 15, from 1pm to 5pm, LoBianco will be one of the artists featured. Tickets for the event are $25 and are currently on sale through Brooksville Main Street.

The winning artist will have the opportunity to display and sell additional artwork at this premiere ticketed event, a walking tour of artistic delights in all their various forms. The Art Stroll will lead guests through the doors of a number of downtown businesses, where they can meet and speak with Hernando County artists, see art demonstrations, and purchase art in a controlled environment where social distancing and sanitization provide a safer environment. All event proceeds go to benefit the Brooksville Main Street Program and its mission to revitalize historic downtown Brooksville.

Other contest prizes include a $250 Cash Prize, an interview spotlight on the Hernando County Fine Arts Council website, and an online Hernando County Fine Arts Council Art Directory listing for 1 year.

The goal of this contest, “is to broaden the horizons of artists in our community and other communities they engage with.”  And in the eyes–and lens–of Joan LoBianco, this mission has been well accomplished.

“I can’t wait for the reception, the Art Stroll, and more chances to show my photos. This feels fantastic,” she said.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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