Tom Holt, a local artist whose street-savvy style can be found on warehouse walls as well as respectable galleries, has come away with the top prize in a viewer’s choice competition organized by the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University.

Holt won $500 for his painting “Working Man,” one of dozens of works in the Castellani’s ongoing TopSpin retrospective, which runs through Feb. 17.

The second-place prize went to Felice Koenig for the painting “Give Me that Old Fashioned Morphine.” Like much of Koenig’s work, the piece is the product of the artist’s signature style of meticulously applying hundreds of layers of paint to create a bubbly, multihued surface that practically begs the viewer to run a hand across the painting’s surface.

Third prize belonged to Ani Hoover, best known for paintings that feature dripping, multicolored circles made with acrylic paint, spray paint and ink on long sheets of Yupo paper. One of these, “Heads,” clinched the prize.

The museum also announced the four artists selected for its 2013 TopSpin exhibitions, which typically focus on little-known and emerging artists who have not had exhibitions in major museums. They are Carol Carreno of Youngstown, Mary K. Johnson of Cheektowaga and Jody Hanson and Bethany Krull of Buffalo.

Grants to arts groups

Last week, when New York State announced grants under its new Regional Economic Development Council initiative, the Springville Center for the Arts came away with more than $800,000 for a pair of projects to revitalize the village’s downtown core.

But several Buffalo arts groups also received major grants as part of the initiative through the New York State Council on the Arts.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will receive $90,000 from New York State to present its “Celebration of Music” at venues along Buffalo’s inner harbor during the summer.

The Arts Services Initiative of Western New York will receive $48,237 to fund a program that gives free or discounted tickets and transportation to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program recipients in Erie and Niagara counties.

Just Buffalo Literary Center will receive $125,000 for its Literary Buffalo program and to fund artist fees and marketing.

The Martin House Restoration Corp. also received a $268,000 grant to fund the final phase of its restoration of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright house at 125 Jewett Parkway.

CEPA, Big Orbit to merge

Also as part of the grants, CEPA Gallery and Big Orbit Gallery – both directed and programmed by Sean Donaher – will come together under one roof in CEPA Gallery’s Market Arcade Building headquarters on Main Street. The state’s investment of $65,000 in the new merger, according to a booklet describing the grants, will help the reimagined gallery “draw audiences into Western New York and provide emerging and under-recognized artists with presentation opportunities.”