Barnum student’s painting selected for congressional award

Ivy Polecheck’s painting, “Relief From the Storm,” is an “awesome representation” of Wisconsin Point, teacher Robert Domecq said.

Barnum freshman Ivy Polecheck's painting "Relief From the Storm" was selected as a winner of the Congressional Art Competition. The painting will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. (Jamey Malcomb /

Barnum freshman Ivy Polecheck was in class a couple weeks ago when she got a text from her mom telling her to check her voicemail.

Polecheck’s painting had been entered in the Congressional Art Competition by her teacher, Robert Domecq. The voicemail was the news that her painting had been selected as the winner for Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District, meaning the painting will be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year.

“I just listened to it and I started crying,” Polecheck said. “Everyone in my class started huddling around me and they’re asking what’s wrong. I was like, ‘Nothing’s wrong — I’m just so happy.’”

The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide visual art contest to “recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district,” according to the competition website.


"Relief From the Storm," painted by Barnum freshman Ivy Polecheck, was selected as a winner in the 2021 Congressional Art Competition. (Photo courtesy of Robert Domecq)

The acrylic painting was inspired by a photo taken by Polecheck’s uncle, Duluth photographer Joe Polecheck, of the Superior Entry Lighthouse on Wisconsin Point in Superior.

“I was scrolling through his pictures, picking one for the assignment and I saw that one,” Polecheck said. “It made me think of my mom because she started this thing about thinking positive and using all these crystals. Her little sign is rainbows and so I thought that would be a cool one to use.”

Polecheck said she spent a lot of time working on the lighthouse, but as she started to fill in the water and sky, she had difficulty getting the texture of the water and details of the sky right. She turned to Domecq for advice.

“We’ve talked about it in class many times,” he said. “The higher you are on a canvas, that’s further away and the lower you are, that’s closer. I tried to explain when you’re texturing further away there’s less and when you’re moving forward, that’s where the details start to happen.”

Barnum freshman Ivy Polecheck works on an ink drawing during class Monday, May 10, 2021. Polecheck's painting, "Relief From the Storm," was selected as a winner in the Congressional Art Competition. (Jamey Malcomb /

Polecheck still believes there are some improvements to be made to the painting, particularly with the rocks leading to the lighthouse, but her teacher remains impressed by the work.


“When I looked at it, I thought, ‘Man, that is just right on,’” Domecq said. “That’s Wisconsin Point. I live like 2 miles from there. I’ve walked out the jetty to the lighthouse more times than I can count and I think she did an awesome representation.”

Polecheck said painting is probably her favorite artistic expression and she’s even created a little studio space at her home in Kettle River.

“It’s just something I can do to get away,” she said. “It just calms me down, especially if I’m listening to music. I have this little area down in the basement where I just paint and everyone kind just leaves me alone.”

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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