ArtPrize looks to open doors for artists

UP artists, students display work at Bonifas Center

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette UP artist Kathleen Conover poses near her artwork at the 2016 ArtPrize.

HANCOCK — Bringing the Upper Peninsula to the world, local organizations are proud to announce the third year of promoting and coordinating U.P. artists through ArtPrize.

“Not only are we promoting individual artists, but we are really promoting the U.P. as a distinct arts and cultural district,” said Pasqua Warstler Executive and Gallery Director at the Bonifas Arts Center.

Known as the U.P. Pavilion, the project hopes to promote U.P. artists and bring many of them together into a single location in the 2018 ArtPrize competition with around 20 or 30 artists from the region.

ArtPrize is an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with more than $500,000 in prizes awarded each year. Half of the winners are determined by public vote and the other half by a jury of art experts. The competition is going on its tenth year.

“In the past we’ve had a venue in Grand Rapids that houses this collective of U.P. artists and there’s always been other U.P. artists in other venues throughout Grand Rapids,” Warstler said.

The goal is to coordinate a U.P. presence and promote local artist work, though the artists will still need to register with Art Prize themselves.

The project involves the Mackinac Arts Council, the Bonifas Arts Center and tourism organizations like UP Travel as well as local government representatives that are working to promote the region. Currently, the program is looking for local artists and support as the project moves forward.

Residents will have the chance to view the artwork before it appears in ArtPrize on Mackinac Island. The two exhibits will be titled “Crossing the Straits: U.P. Art to Mackinac Island” and “Crossing the Straits: U.P. Art to Grand Rapids” once it arrives in the city.

“As the artwork is on the road heading to ArtPrize, we make our first stop in Mackinac Island and then we head down to ArtPrize,” Warstler said.

ArtPrize has expressed particular interest in young artists from area colleges. Finlandia University is one and has already begun involvement in promotional roles designing materials as part of the University’s International School of Art & Design.  

“This is actually a really huge opportunity not only for me but for the art school itself, we’ve never had a project this massive…It’s an honor to be placed on it,” said design student Jayana Barrette.

Barrette and her project partner Marina Balton are tasked with designing the logo as part of their program.

“ArtPrize has been (ongoing for) ten years, but this is the third year for us,” said Denise Vandeville, Dean of the International School of Art and Design. “This is the first time there has been a real coordinated effort and so each year I think it’s building more and more…in who it represents. The first year they did it they didn’t even know if there would be uptake and so it was a very quick thing,”

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