It was a packed house at the Allie Griffin Art Gallery last night for the James Weir People's Choice reception gala event, where this year’s winner was revealed.

Chris Borschowa received the award for his piece called ‘The Trees Burn Auburn’. He shared his inspiration behind the piece.

“I've kind of been in this weird realm of like surrealistic earth, so that's kind of what I've been playing with,” explained Borschowa. “I just kind of felt strongly about the image, so I thought that'd be a good piece to put in.”

His strong feeling paid off, topping two of Weyburn’s most prominent and prolific artists for first place. Marilyn Nelson took home second place for her painting, ‘Impermanence” and third place went to Heather van der Breggen for her painting, ‘Pulse’.

Borschowa explained his process.

“Each section of this photo is a different layer that I photographed and just combined them in Photoshop,” he said. “There's probably like 16 layers in this photo. It took me probably like six hours to do, maybe longer.”

When asked what it’s like becoming a local celebrity, he shared his initial reaction.

“It's strange actually,” he said. “It's strange.”

First-time entrant Chloe Gill, 17, shared her impressions on the competition.

“I hope for the best, always, because I am a perfectionist and I do like to win. It’s really hard not to win, for me,” she said. “But I kind of knew going in that I’m not as experienced as the other people.”

Gill has been drawing her whole life. Her piece was entitled, ‘Life Support’.

In total this year, 1,221 ballots were cast at the gallery for the 34 artists entered. City Curator Regan Lanning brought more than 500 people through to take in the variety of local works via guided gallery tours throughout January and February.

Overall, in its 35th year, 2019 was the largest JWPC show to date. In fact, voting was done beyond the walls of the Allie Griffin Art Gallery.

“One huge change to the show this year was that we had an online voting option,” said City Curator Regan Lanning. “We had 378 votes cast online. Some of them came from Weyburnites, but most of them came from around the world.”

She said votes came in from Norway, England, Australia, Germany, and the United States.

“I love that we can showcase our local talent internationally,” she said. “For a few years, I felt it was kind of selfish that we were keeping all this greatness just to the people of Weyburn.”

Speedy Glass provided creative and original trophies for the three winners.

“The people at Speedy really outdid themselves this year,” said Lanning.

Other sponsors include the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the City of Weyburn, Sask Culture, and the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, and the Weyburn Arts Council.

Click HERE to see each artist posing with their works.

Video footage by Krista Klemmer, edited by Steven Wilson: