Although art has been part of Alex Hernandez’s life as far back as he can remember, like many employees who participate in the National Arts Program® exhibitions, he doesn’t utilize his artistic abilities on a daily basis at his job with VIA Metropolitan Transit. Instead, he creates one or two pieces a year to enter in the annual NAP show. Alex, who is a self-taught artist, had received an Honorable Mention award and a Second Place award for the artworks he had entered in the NAP shows over the past four years. For his fifth year submitting a piece, Alex set the goal of winning a First Place award in his category. Not only did he achieve that goal, his pencil drawing entitled “Juanita” (picture) was awarded both Best of Show by the judges and People’s Choice by the public.
As the Best of Show winner from our VIA exhibition, Alex’s piece along with forty-two other Best of Show winners from the NAP’s 2015 shows across the country were selected to compete in the second annual “Best of the Best” online art show and contest. The NAP asked the public to choose their favorite piece by “liking” it on Facebook during the voting period and vote you did! The artwork in this year’s contest received an overwhelming response of 4,228 total votes from February 1 through March 31. Of those, Alex’s piece received an astounding number of “likes” – 1,800 to be exact – which is more than double the number of votes the entire contest received last year!
Alex doesn’t use social media as a tool to promote his art, even mentioning that he had to create a Facebook account just for the competition. He instead credits his girlfriend and his sister with helping him achieve such a large number of votes. He states that they are not only his biggest supporters/motivators, but they were an integral part of getting people to vote for his piece online. Along with his family’s hard work, Alex, who is a Navy veteran, feels that his extended military family was responsible for helping spread word about the contest worldwide.
In addition to the support from his family, Alex attributes his artistic success to NAP venue coordinator, Jerri Ann Jones. Jerri Ann does a tremendous job bringing out the artistic talents of the VIA community, often encouraging employees, like Alex, to enter the annual show even when they don’t believe in themselves. Jerri Ann has provided the motivation for him to enter the exhibition five years ago and every year since. Her support over the years has inspired Alex to state that, “he wants to share this title of “Best of the Best” with her!”
Along with the encouragement of Alex’s close friends and family, being named “Best of the Best” for 2015 has only fueled his passion to create more artwork. “It’s a huge honor to be the “Best of the Best” after all these years; it makes me feel like I really deserve this talent I was born with!” As for his award money, he has big plans to use it to create his next piece for the 2016 NAP exhibition.
"Angel" was created for Coordinator Jerri Ann Jones, pictured here with Alex