Klewei bags Best of Show award


Woodcarver Nick Klewei won the Best of Show award during the 8th Annual Bridge Capital CNMI Art Competition that held its awards ceremony last Saturday at the Flame Tree Arts Festival at the Civic Center in Susupe.

Klewei’s winning piece was a wooden carving of a sea turtle carrying an octopus on its back called “Turtle and Octopus.” According to Klewei, the piece is his whimsical take on friendship.

“The turtle and the octopus is a fairy tale story. The octopus was running away from dangerous fish and she accidentally landed on the back of the turtle and when she did that, she asked the turtle for help. After that, the turtle took her and fled and the fish didn’t catch her but everywhere they went, the octopus managed to get the food…to feed them and that was the beginning of their friendship,” he said.

Aside from sharing his tales through his talents, Klewei said the competition also helps him push himself and other artists to do better than he did the year before. Winning the competition assures him that he is in the right direction.

Klewei was awarded $2,500 for his piece that took about a year to complete.

Bridge Capital hosts the annual art competition in time with the annual Flame Tree Festival to support local artists.

The company also awarded other prizes during Friday’s announcement of competition winners, including the Governor’s Choice Award, Community’s Choice Award, Painting/Open category, Photography, Woodwork and Mixed Media, Student category, and under 11.

The Governor’s Choice Award was given to the piece that was personally chosen by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres himself. Torres chose Gregorio Baenis’ “Sakaw Roots” piece for its representation of the indigenous culture and the importance of unity in a community. Bridge Capital awarded Baenis $1,000.

The Community’s Choice Award was given to Jesus Sulla’s piece “Flame Tree at Night” for using the Flame Tree Festival as his inspiration. Bridge Capital awarded Sulla $500.

For the Painting/Open category, Ireneo Q. David’s “Turtle (Under Sea)” was awarded first place and Nhorleen Bhitco’s sketch “The Marianas” was awarded second place.

In the Photography category, Myla Capilitan’s “Refalu Bwesch” piece was awarded first and Hervin Jacinto’s “View from Inos Park” was awarded second.

In the Woodwork and Mixed Media category, Debbie Winkfield’s “Silent Cry” was awarded first place and Beatrix Susan Doyle’s “Underwater Magic” was awarded second place.

For the Student category, Ruth Park’s “Sea the Beauty” was awarded first place and Tricia Salcedo’s “Dancing Waves” was awarded second place.

The first place winner of each category was awarded $1,500 and the second place winners were awarded $1,000.

In the under 11 division, Sora Baidya’s “Black and White Turtle” was awarded first place and Kim Ju Eun’s “Sweet Spring” was awarded second place. The first place winner was awarded $750 and the second place winner was awarded $500.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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