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.