Friday, September 21, 2012

Michigan ArtPrize Artists Well Represented Amongst International Artists

ArtPrize 2012 is officially underway and DeVos Place is once again hosting some terrific art ranging from pin-point drawings to flamboyant paintings to enticing sculptures. On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people showed up to our opening reception where a few of the artists were on hand to greet, meet and discuss. Last week, we highlighted just 11 of those artists and their work. Fifty-eight artists are displaying their work at DeVos Place out of 900 applicants. Just as the art ranges in style and topic, the artists themselves come from all over the world and range in background and motivation.

Scott Luce’s “Grand Illumination” (pictured above) stands nearly 7 feet tall and is constructed of an estimated 800 pounds of granite, stainless steel and antique glass. The body of the sculpture is literally carved from one of the granite steps of the city’s historic Civic Auditorium. The lanterns are made from the Italian glass ceiling lights which were also part of the former auditorium. “These building materials were meant to remind us of the grandeur of days gone by, while it’s clean and modern design mirror many of the design elements of our modern-day Convention Center,” Luce said. Luce grew up in Grand Rapids, receiving a BS degree from Central Michigan University. He also attended Kendall College of Art and Design. In ArtPrize 2010, Luce submitted a trilogy of three abstract sculptures.

Kim M. Rudolph came in the top 25 at ArtPrize 2011 with her sculpture “Lady of Dance.” This year, her entry is titled “Black Swan,” a life-size sculpture made from wall plaster. Rudolph’s work is done painstakingly by hand with no forms, models or casting used in the creation of “Black Swan.” From start to finish, Rudolph says an art piece like ‘Black Swan” can often take years to produce. Kim began her career in fine art doing painting, drawing, designing and carving, particularly enjoying creating art that’s realistic in form and styling. Her art shows a love for detail. Sculpting came later in life, landing in her lap accidentally. The passion she felt in this artistic medium was unsurpassed as it ignited a flame in her. As an artist she often feels like she’s walking a tightrope ever so gently combining 2D and 3D artistry in one, blending them effortlessly.

West Michigan artist Jessica Bohus had work in ArtPrize 2010 at the Douglas J Aveda Institute. But this year, Bohus is hoping that her spot on a DeVos Place wall will give her piece “some fabulous shadows.” The contrast between the two venues demonstrates something she likes about participating in ArtPrize, which led her to enter “Running on Air,” in this year’s competition. “The work I do is sculptural installation so the venue changes the viewer’s experience of the art and dictates how the horses appear or disappear” she said. Originally from the south side of Chicago and a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bohus now lives near Fennville where she operates Blue Roan Studio. The Studio is in a two room schoolhouse built in 1889. She also works and has work on view at Good Goods Gallery in Saugatuck.

Artist and Grand Ledge-native, Mary Ann Southworth is displaying “Personal Medicine,” an acrylic and colored pencil on wood panel painting that’s a “warm reflection of the transformation and inner peace that happens when you grow comfortable with who you are.” Her paintings, sculptures and collages have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including those at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Mars Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; Jacqueline Burke Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Jayne Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri; Joan Cawley Gallery in Lenexa, Kansas; Synapse Gallery in Benton Harbor, Michigan; and Shibui Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Southworth attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago Illinois, and received a B.F.A. in 1989.

Photography is Nicholas Gregory’s calling, if you asked him. “Five years ago I set out with a simple goal—get to know the most misunderstood city in America. Detroit feeds my curiosity as an artist and learner.” The images in this compelling photo essay, “Split,” captures the sometimes forgotten stories so ingrained in this city’s roots–including the lingering scars of housing segregation and the construction of the Chrysler Freeway (I-75) through the onetime culturally rich black neighborhood known as Paradise Valley. The neighborhood, a vibrant entertainment center turned ghetto, was located in the heart of Motown and was home to thousands of Black families before it was buried by concrete. His work ranges from photojournalism in the streets of Barcelona to capturing majestic Pacific Northwest landscapes and portraits. But he aims to bring awareness back to one city. “I bring awareness to Detroit's history and the current challenges so we can make Detroit better."

Cristina Fournier’s watercolor and oil paintings are widely acclaimed internationally and in her native Costa Rica. Her many awards include the National Aquielo Echeverria Award, the prestigious Ancora Award and Honorable Mention at the International Show in Juivissy, Paris. Cristina is an enthusiastic artist-diplomat. Her vibrant paintings of native flora and fauna have long been favored by Costa Rican government officials as gifts for visiting dignitaries. One of her paintings was officially presented at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. Cristina is a dedicated and prolific artist. She has traveled extensively throughout the Americas and Europe, captivating the “feelings” of each region with her versatile, impressionistic brush. “From Coast to Coast” is a labor of love. Begun more than ten years ago, this enormous watercolor is an ambitious portrayal of the luscious and extremely variable flora of Costa Rica, from its Caribbean Coastal tropics to the dry forests of the Pacific.

Holland resident and Hopkins High School art teacher, Cassie Jo Krause Atallah’s ArtPrize entry is called “Fruit of the Mind and Work of Human Hands.” The work is a series of 12 wooden frames displaying hand casts doing a variety of everyday tasks, but for what could be very different characters. “It is an optimistic view of the job market and a tribute to all of the people who work hard every day.” The Hope College graduate chose the title as a commentary on how our jobs (past, present, and future) become parts of our identities and affect our lives in ways both subtle and profound. “As a teacher, I hope that my students will have the opportunity to work in careers that they truly enjoy,” she said, and “as a friend and family member, I am constantly in awe of the variety of things that the people in my life do on a daily basis. I appreciate people whose work has a positive effect on their communities. This project is a tribute to all of you.”

Yet Holland is not only represented at DeVos Place by Atallah. Michelle Calkins also resides in Holland and will be competing in her third ArtPrize. Moving from magnets and wood in her previous entries to oil paint and canvas, "Collage Color Study 64" is a study of color and texture and how they relate to each other. She says each little painting is inspired by unique color combinations and the nature around her. "Having been a professional picture framer since 1990, the presentation aspect of the art world is always on my mind. A great frame can do wonders. Owning Four Corners Framing Company in Holland, Michigan has afforded me a front row seat to many types & styles of art. It has been a great & constant inspiration and keeps me on my art toes." Michelle's media of choice are oil painting, sculpture and photography. "It's all about color," she says. "Lately I’ve been borrowing from one discipline to give to another which I think makes each one stronger." She feels she has come full circle with her piece for Artprize 2012.

For Kirstie Conklin, the decision to enter ArtPrize wasn’t simply about winning a competition. It was about paying tribute to her husband, who died of cancer on September 19, 2011—exactly one year before this year’s event began. Conklin recalls visiting ArtPrize in its first year with her husband, dreaming of someday entering the competition herself. But as a busy mother of a toddler with a full-time job, she didn’t think she had time. The following fall, life shifted gears. After a new baby and as her husband’s battle with cancer came to an end, she dug deep to find herself as she continued to raise her two children, work full time, and maintain a home. “Being a widow was a resentful fact of life, and the term ‘single mom’ never really resonated with me,” Conklin said. “But after a while I realized there were many ways to draw closure from the death of my husband. One was to fulfill my promise to take him to Italy. The other was to participate in ArtPrize.” She decided to create a painting from an image she photographed as a young art student—a scene of Perugia, Italy. Rendered almost as tight as a photograph, her 24”x36” oil on board painting is titled, “My Little Italy.” “My hope is that it will show others that even in the darkest of times, it is only from within we can draw our strength,” Conklin said.

Rebecca Zeiss studied painting and drawing at Delta College and then the University of Michigan School of Art and Design. During her time in Ann Arbor, she changed the focus of her work from painting to photography. She received her MFA in photography in 2005 from Central Michigan University and is now teaching photography and design at the University of Michigan-Flint, Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. Her work embraces the crossover between photography and the tactile components of painting and drawing. Recently, her work in national and local exhibitions has been recognized by Bernice Steinbaum (pioneer for women artists), Joy Hakanson Colby (eminent retired art critic for the Detroit News), Deborah Willis (honored educator at the Society for Photographic Education), and Joseph Thompson, director of Mass MoCA, which he spearheaded to be the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the US. The oversize images of “Resonance of the Machinist.” which are printed on brushed aluminum, play with the viewer as the optical planes shift through what is revealed and/or what is concealed, creating perceptual illusions and allusions.

This is just a small portion of the artists exhibiting their entries at DeVos Place. Stay tuned for information on more artists. Please find a listing of all entries being shown at DeVos Place here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

More ArtPrize Artists Come From All Over to Grace DeVos Place With A Diverse Range of Entries

As the Arena District recently kicked off their second annual ArtPrize Preview in 24 different venues, DeVos Place is once again proud to host some more terrific and intriguing entries. This year, DeVos Place will play host to 58 different pieces shown throughout the venue. Just as the art ranges in style and topic, the artists themselves come from all over the world and range in background and motivation.

The motivation for artist Kent Ambler is a noteworthy one. A full-time artist since 1997, Ambler is pledging to donate $10,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) should he win the 2012 ArtPrize top prize for his installation piece. “Dogs have added so much to my life that I feel a need to help. I donate work for auctions to benefit animal groups probably five or six times a year. I always wish I could help animal shelters more than I do,” says Kent. His work is a testament to his admiration for the four-legged friends who often appear as the main subject in his art. His ArtPrize piece “Running Dogs” is a massive expression of this adoration. With more than 100 painted, cut-out dogs captured in different forms of running, the piece spans the whole wall—eight feet high and sixty feet long. Out of South Carolina, Ambler received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ball State University and has appeared in art shows, festivals and galleries throughout the United States.

Brothers Karamazov” is a piece created by Seattle-born Tom Nakashima during a reading of the novel by the same name. Nakashima is Emeritus Proffessor at The Catholic U. of America and Morris Eminent Scholar Emeritus at Augusta State University. His work is in the permanent collections of over 50 public collections, which includes the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His work has been reviewed or written about in international art magazines and news publications while being reproduced in The Paris Review, Elle, Southern Living, and House Beautiful. As with all of Nakashima’s work, the painting uses recycled paper which relates to his continuing commentary on deforestation of the planet.

“It all began with an invitation to my high school reunion, which they scheduled to coincide with an event called ArtPrize,” explains Jody Cramer, who grew up in Grand Rapids and is currently an artist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Jody’s artwork, entitled “Tulip Mania Connecting the Dots,” consists of nine 2’ x 2’ individual wooden panels in a diamond configuration comprising nearly 3,000 three-dimensional dots of vibrant acrylic color and a holographic medium, which unite to convey form in a Gestalt of optical illusion. Jody developed her unique style over 30 years ago while completing her Master’s Degree at Indiana University. Her interest in art began at a young age, evolving from childhood classes at the Grand Rapids Art Museum into the pursuit of art as a career. Fond memories of enjoying the Holland Tulip Festival as a child also helped inspire her ArtPrize entry. “ArtPrize is such an innovative format and platform for artists, it will be exciting to participate and see my hometown again,” said Cramer, who will be here for the event.

From Beaufort, South Carolina, Greg Rawls has been creating kiln-formed (fused) glass for the past twelve years, studying extensively with many accomplished glass artists and developing techniques for taking kiln-formed glass in new directions, as with “Sea Glass.” For his direction, Rawls has won numerous awards, such as the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition, while also appearing in several galleries within his state. Rawls’ artist statement states glass is an eternal medium that has been worked, in one form or another, for several thousand years. Fused glass art was found in ancient Egyptian excavations and was a revered art form. The technique was lost and rediscovered about 50 years ago. “I want my work to be simple and expressive, yet convey a sense of color and light in harmony. I have always been inspired by the colors of the Lowcountry. The marsh, ocean and incredible sunsets form my palette.” He pursues glass art full time with his company, specializing in kiln-formed glass for art and architecture.

Lily Lihting Li Kostrzewa is a contemporary artist who specializes in cross-cultural paintings. Born in Taiwan, Kostrzewa studied at National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei before moving to the United States. She utilizes many techniques from both the eastern and western art to enrich her work. Now residing in Michigan, her artwork has been exhibited in Ukraine, Jordan, Taiwan, Austria, Canada, Greece, Italy and many states in the US. Her formal education includes MFA degree in Modern painting, MA degree in Computer Graphics, BFA degree in Chinese Art and Art Education teaching certificate. Lily has taught painting, design and workshops in colleges, public schools and community art centers, including Lake Forest College, IL, Central Michigan University, MI and Marywood University, PA. “Don’t Wait For Tomorrow” has been shown in NYC’s Time Square and has been chosen to be published by Chicago Art Magazine, Open Studio Magazine (Boston) and Review Magazine (Saginaw).

Emmy-nominated filmmaker, artist, author and explorer of the PBS Documentary “In the footsteps of Marco Polo “, New York-bred Francis ODonnell says he was inspired by the Nazi Holocaust and “mankind’s refusal to learn from the past, which has led to other monstrous acts of genocide around the world since the end of WWII.” ODonnell’s piece “Guernica Redux—Holocaust of the Innocents” pays homage to (though he insists is not a copy of) Picasso’s famous antiwar masterpiece, “Guernica.” “I've painted it bold and simply, reminiscent of the propaganda posters of the 1930s/40s. To some extent, this softens the terrible images. To further remove us from reality, I've restricted my palette to the use of three colors—red, white and black with the exception of an old man who sits on his hands on a light blue military helmet. He represents the world and the helmet represents the United Nations knowing [of these acts] but unwilling act,” ODonnell describes.

Christopher Weed grew up in Philadelphia, PA, receiving a BFA degree from the University of Maryland, studied in Europe for several years, and has created over 20 public art commissions since 1998. Participating in last year’s ArtPrize, Weed is now introducing “Spores” to downtown Grand Rapids. Spores simultaneously suggests something playful yet threatening, natural yet out-scaled, organic yet industrial. Accordingly, the forms at-once appear as seed spores, tumbleweeds, thistles, and nautical mines. The sculptures are constructed of powder coated steel spheres with 400, to 475 solid half inch steel stems welded to each sphere. Weed’s entry form last year, “Portal” recently won first place in the 2012 Art on the Streets in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He’s also completed projects in Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Fort Collins, Lafayette, Colorado Springs and Superior to name a few. He is represented at A New Leaf Gallery in San Francisco, CA, and Shidoni Foundry, Gallery and Sculpture Gardens in Santa Fe, NM.

Though Haiti is the theme of his Artprize photo exhibit called “The Least of These,” Phil Niekerk is based a little closer to the area. Niekerk, local pastor and photographer from Ada, Michigan is displaying a series of 34 black and white photos surrounded in three frames of steel and metal grating. “Going on mission trips around the world has been one of the highlights of being a pastor. I always take my camera equipment no matter the circumstances. Photography is how I journal what I’m seeing and feeling when I’m in a new place like Haiti,” he says. “I always look for a theme to capture with my camera—something more than the typical vacation shots. It became obvious during my first couple of days in Haiti that faces were [the] theme. My camera gravitated to these beautiful faces I encountered. I think my photos capture a wide continuum of these human emotions; from joy to despair, from anger to contentment, from beauty to brokenness. ”

Dr. Ellen (Messner) Rogers, former wildlife veterinarian in Africa and star of Animal Planet’s docu-drama TV show Great African Wildlife Rescue, presents her animal-inspired artwork, “Darwin Called It Evolution,” for ArtPrize. She is a 2012 MFA graduate from Visual Studies Department at the University at Buffalo, as well as an alumnus of Harvard and Tufts University. She earned her BFA at the Maine College of Art, in Portland, Maine. Through her art practice, Rogers examines ideas about humans, animals, and Nature. Rogers spent years working in Africa hands-on with some of the most endangered, and dangerous wild animals on the planet. Based on her experiences working in wildlife conservation in Africa, Dr. Rogers uses art to explore how humans interact with and understand Nature. She seeks innovative visual methods to ask if people are a part of (or apart from) Nature. Her current artwork embodies hybrids of people and animals, asking how do people affect other beings? How do animals affect people? And ultimately, how do humans affect themselves through the environment? Rogers uses her sculptures to question the human/nature dichotomy.

Artist Read Lockhart is continuing in the visual arts tradition of his father and grandfather. With “The Allegory of the Cave,” Read Lockhart continues to dive into his paintings and drawings layering oils on canvas and graphite on paper to reveal undeniably compelling images. Although the visual arts were far from his mind during his undergraduate career at St. John's College, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Illinois-native soon discovered his love of drawing closer to home at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lockhart has also studied drawing at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy before his apprenticeship back in the US assisting some of New York’s most established painters. To conclude Lockhart’s studies in New York, he received the Alma Schipiro travel grant and spent seven months making his way through Western Europe entranced by the works of the great masters. After Europe, Lockhart's wealth of experience and knowledge backed by years of study drew him back to New Mexico where he settled in Taos.

In the 2011 installment for ArtPrize, artist Dominic Sansone had a great response to his entry, winning his venue's Best in Show Award from the Michigan ACLU and finishing in the Top 25 in Hillside voting. This year with his piece "Just Short of the Shore,” Dominic is looking to reach a wider audience. Dominic is a native of Chicago and in 1997 received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in sculpture from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before spending two years working for an aerospace company producing fabrication and assembly drawings for satellites, military aircraft, and mobile artillery units. He’s also worked in the tradeshow industry and has overseen worldwide exhibition programs for major multinational corporations. Since receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis in 2010, Dominic has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around the United States. He is represented by Fulton Market Gallery in Chicago and teaches at the Evanston Art Center.

This is just a small portion of the artists exhibiting their entries at DeVos Place. Stay tuned for information on more artists. Please find a listing of all entries being shown at DeVos Place here.