Saturday, February 4, 2023

Artistic Achievement

Ionia, Montcalm county artists part of 10th annual ArtPrize

“Rainy Day in NOLA”

A dozen local artists have created offerings for the 10th annual ArtPrize contest, ranging in inspiration from Michigan nature and wildlife to Haitian creations to Greek mythology to Japanese art.

More than 1,260 entries have been submitted to be on display at more than 165 venues in Grand Rapids. The contest started Wednesday and continues through Oct. 7.

Winning prizes totaling $500,000 will be awarded, including a $200,000 prize decided by public vote, a $200,000 prize decided by a jury of experts, plus four $12,500 public vote category awards and four $12,500 juried category awards. Visit online for more information.


Hometown:  Lyons

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2017 and 2016

Background: “Sara J. Alvord specializes in two-dimensional wildlife in various media. She has been creating realistic works for 25 years, rendering intense detail while working with oils on canvas, scratch-board and graphite. During her early career, she studied animals and human figure drawing. Directly interacting with animals such and wolves and birds has given her insight into the study of physical characteristics of animals, including muscle movement and behavior.”

Title of entry: “Michigan Wildlife Watercolors”

Medium: Watercolors

Description: “This is a beautiful collection of Michigan wildlife on both land and lake. Each of Michigan’s native animals is painted with vibrant watercolor. The watercolor paintings explore both realistic and abstract art. Finally, the paintings are finished off with drips and splashes adding an exciting finish. The watercolors are painted on cotton with lightfast paint.”

Displayed at: Moosejaw Mountaineering, 410 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Portland

Previously entered ArtPrize: No

Background: None given

Title of entry: “Voices from Haiti”

Medium: Wood, metal, paper and foam

Description: “‘Voices from Haiti’ is a collection of drawings created by 64 Haitian children, many of whom are orphans. Their assignment was to create a pencil drawing of something that gives them hope. Their drawings were then incorporated into a larger work of art. An 11th-grade student from Michigan, Hannah Schafer, helped create the backdrop to display the drawings. She applied a light wash of watercolor to each drawing and mounted them on large “waves” she helped create in the colors of the rainbow to symbolize hope after the tsunami. These hang in front of a corrugated metal background, which she painted to symbolize the rusted, paint-chipped, housing material used in much of the makeshift housing in Port au Prince. She then created several pieces of debris to mount at the base of the artwork, representing rubble from the earthquake.”

Displayed at: Michigan First Credit Union, 50 Louis St. NW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Howard City

Previously entered ArtPrize: No

Background: “I am a self-taught artist who has been painting using a variety of media for about 20 years. I kept getting distracted by a piece of plywood my husband had in the yard. So I drug it in the house and cleaned it up. Used layer after layer of washes that took on their own story. The more I let the wood tell its story, the more it had to tell me until I had four pieces of plywood that I rescued from my husband’s pole barn. I had nowhere to work on my piece with the weather so cold for so long so the kitchen is where I set up shop. This project is different than any I have done before. The more I tried to give my piece direction the more problems came up. When I just let go the piece rolled right along. Ideas would come to me with every layer of wash I put down. I paint to express what I can’t put into words. I find it almost impossible to put what I feel into words so I pour it out onto walls, canvas, old doors, windows or anything that will hold still long enough to put paint on. With my love of watching something grow, whether a painting, seven children, nine grandchildren and countless gardens, I found painting went to the core of me. I think painting may give me a sense of control and power over my life which every woman can relate to in all walks of life.”

Title of entry: “Two Sides To Every Story”

Medium: Acrylic

Description: “‘Two Sides to Every Story’ started with a little niggle with a piece of plywood that was sitting in my driveway. ‘Two Sides to Every Story’ is a series of four recycled panels that told its own story no matter how much I tried to guide it. Each piece is double sided and each panel is different in size. I used layer after layer of acrylic washes to paint each panel over the last few months. Each piece represents tools I use to cope with the symptoms of bipolar, anxiety and depression. ‘Strength’ with its wire and hand cut tin can leaves and bold background is the face I put on when I am at my lowest. ‘Peace’ on the opposite side with the abstract water lilies shows the peace I feel from the nature around me. ‘Above’ with its depiction of clouds is another tool from nature I use to cope with anxiety. Letting the breeze blow away all of the negative feeling while the opposite side of the panel ‘Below’ represents the earth that keeps me grounded. ‘Hanging On’ is what you have to do to make it through a bout of depression which causes you to hang onto the negative as well which takes me to ‘Letting Go’ — the freedom I feel when the depression leaves me. ‘Sunrise’ is another coping skill using nature to find the beauty in the world as well as the opposite side ‘Rain.’”

Displayed at: Wealthy and Division Block, 424 Division Ave. SE, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Clarksville

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2017

Background: “I am 27-year-old wife and mother of four. I love the Lord. I have no schooling or training in art, but I have a passion for painting. It is something I have enjoyed doing for a long time. I hope to bring glory to God through my paintings. My art once was an outlet for anxiety and depression, but God has done amazing works in my life and given me peace and truth like I have never known before. I hope to magnify him in all areas of my life but using a paintbrush to spread the gospel is a small way to return the love and faithfulness he has greatly given to me.”

Title of entry: “A Keeper at Home”

Medium: Exterior paint on plywood

Description: “This piece is to remind women of the humble role women were designed to fill and to encourage the ones who still are content to fill it. For the women who honor their husbands and train up their children to love the Lord. For the wives and mothers who stay off the corporate ladder to mop their floors at home. For those women who do not need to ‘wear the pants’ but are strong enough to stand behind a man and help him to succeed. Those women who still embrace actually being a woman and a lady. Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

Displayed at: Division Street Fellowship, 229 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Lake Odessa

Previously entered ArtPrize: No

Background: “I’m from Lake Odessa, where I’ve lived with my family for all of my 87 years. Throughout those years I’ve been a farmer, a builder, a dad, grandpa, and now a great-great-grandpa. I’ve been painting for more than 80 years, but I’ve never entered my work in a competition — until now! I hope to make my official debut as a painter at ArtPrize 2018.”

Title of entry: “Shopping Days”

Medium: Oil, canvas and wood

Description: “‘Shopping Days’ is a tribute to all of the hardworking mothers in this world. The painted canvases depict scenes of dedicated Michigan mothers taking care of one simple but necessary task — shopping for groceries. The scene featuring the Caucasian mother is Elden’s eldest granddaughter and great-grandchildren at Carl’s Supermarket in Elden’s hometown of Lake Odessa. The Chinese-American mother is the owner of Chee Peng Chinese Restaurant — a local favorite in Lake Odessa. The African-American mother is shown shopping at Meijer, another Michigan standby. The final panel features a message from the artist and is a tribute to his own hardworking mother of 10. The four oil paintings are topped with a slab of stained wood, forming a coffee table. Together, the canvases tell the story of mothers who keep the world turning, and they celebrate the hard work and dedication of mothers everywhere.”

Displayed at: Compass Insurance Agency, 280 Ann St. NW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Belding

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2015, 2014 and 2011

Background: “I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Subsequent to active duty, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, concentrating on painting and drawing. I have worked as a freelance artist since 1993, and have been blessed as a high school art teacher since 2006. My work is part of the permanent collections at The University of Notre Dame, The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, Flat River Academy in Greenville, Michigan, and the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library in Belding, Michigan. I am always available for mural, portrait, or illustration commissions. Please visit my website for more information.

Title of entry: “Healing Paws”

Medium: Acrylic

Description: “‘Healing Paws’ was painted to help raise awareness and to help others recognize the important role therapy pets play in the wellness of patients of all types. Cricket, along with his owner Amy Hansen, are active volunteers with Spectrum Health Hospice. They routinely visit area hospitals and assisted living facilities. Therapy pets have been known to calm patients and even lower blood pressure. In addition, Cricket brings a smile to the face, and warms the heart of everyone she visits.”

Displayed at: Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, 100 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Portland

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011

Background: “Photography is all about painting with light. I have a strong desire to frame the world around me and capture the light reflecting off of the objects we see every day. I am rarely without one of my cameras, and some of my best images have been made when I least expected to find an image with interesting lighting. Light sets a tone or mood and helps create a feeling that I hope I can relay to the observer. I like to experiment with vibrant color as well as play with the composition of black and white images in creative ways. In the past decade, the computerized “darkroom” has opened a whole new world in which I can paint with light and share my images with others. I studied photography while I was a student at Aquinas College and have taken several courses and workshops since then. My photography has been on display and has won awards in the Muskegon Museum of Art’s West Michigan Regional Arts Competitions and Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts.”

Title of entry: “Rainy Day in NOLA”

Medium: Mixed media

Description: “This image started as a photograph taken on a rainy spring day in New Orleans. The image was then digitally manipulated to give it a painterly feel, depth, and color enhancement. This enhancement brought out the colors and reflections in the water on the street. The image is printed on a 20×20 piece of brushed aluminum to enhance the colors and the texture. The aluminum print is then float mounted to a black frame.”

Displayed at: The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Greenville

Previously entered ArtPrize: No

Background: “I grew up in Grand Rapids (born in St. Johns) and have always enjoyed working with my hands, making something out of nothing. In my early 20s, I began working with someone fabricating trucks. Whether we removed the sleeper off of an old truck or had a truck to be chopped and slammed, I was always happy with the end results. The low rider bike scene was brought to my attention by a friend who was in one of the clubs. I was hooked! Over the last 13 years, I have fabricated and built two of those bikes for each of my sons. I’m happy to do a collaborative effort with my friend Becky on this project because the whole is so much greater than the pieces individually. Tying them together to make a statement not only of discovery but of possibilities.”

Title of entry: “Transmutation: The New Dawn”

Medium: Oils and metal fabrication

Description: “Transmutation: a change of some essential element into a superior form. This multi-layered collaborative project represents a metamorphosis. We are amid a social transmutation; the evolution of socially accepted gender roles, political upheaval, wars of all kinds. The global rise of consciousness battles the old paradigms. The winds are shifting, and a new awareness is struggling to emerge. The low-rider bike represents the harsh physical outer world. The paintings portray the ethereal inner world of rebirth. The left side of the project illustrates the past. The back wheel rotates backward. The right side illuminates the future as the front tire spins forward as the new dawn approaches. The outer abstract paintings symbolize diverging paths — the choices we make that have a different and direct effect on the whole.”

Displayed at: The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Edmore

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2017

Background: “Jenae has always painted as a hobby and has only very recently started doing art shows in the area. She paints mostly nature scenes and Michigan landmarks.”

Title of entry: “Upper Falls in Summer”

Medium: Acrylic

Description: “As a kid, my parents took my sister and me to Tahquamenon Falls. I had a disposable camera with me, I took a ton of pictures and then I lost it somewhere while we were there. This is the Falls as it looked to me as a kid. I couldn’t believe how big and colorful it was. Vibrant and alive, loud and powerful.”

Displayed at: Arnie’s Restaurant, 722 Leonard NW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Lakeview

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013

Background: “I enjoy all forms of art, and appreciate all forms of creation. Art in all forms is a thing of beauty. I strive to bring that realistic natural beauty into my art. Art is like an eloquent language that everyone can understand and appreciate. It brings everyone together without words and can have a profound impact on society. That is why I enjoy art so much. I am a 1998 graduate of Grand Rapids Community College focusing on art and art history. I have two pieces of art that are part of their permanent collection.”

Title of entry: “Father of Gods and Men”

Medium: Oil

Description: “I have been making paintings for the past few years with a Greek mythology influence. I was always a huge fan of humanities class in school. Being a mom and working full-time it doesn’t always give me time to paint, so recently in the last five years, I have taken to photography to feed my creativity. I have a fascination with the sky and its beauty, my kids would probably call it an obsession, but it’s important in your life to do what you love. My day is not complete unless I create something, so as long as I at least take pictures for the day I have spent my day doing what I love most, being creative. I hope you enjoy my painting, stay creative and do what you love, now.”

Displayed at: Sears Architects, 16 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 1, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Greenville

Previously entered ArtPrize: 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014

Background: “Following ArtPrize 2014 I decided to stay and have permanently relocated to Greenville from San Jose, California. The people here are incredibly kind. I’ve been lucky to be able to earn a living being creatively self-employed first as a couture bridal accessory designer, then as a web designer. But in my heart, I’ve always been an artist afraid to pursue a career in art after dropping out of college when the curriculum to earn an advertising art degree became too creatively stifling. In June 2013 I came to Michigan for the first time to pick up a tiny travel trailer I’d designed and had built here. I learned about ArtPrize on a return trip to Michigan that fall, to camp the U.P., and was inspired to enter as I’ve always loved the idea of everyday people seeing art in everyday public places. The natural beauty of Michigan and its seasons perfectly complements the organic nature of my work.”

Title of entry: “Kintsugi Heart”

Medium: Paint and paper

Description: “I am creating a mixed media entry that will incorporate a painted heart and tiny gold cranes. The title ‘Kintsugi Heart’ is a piece I have wanted to create since learning about kintsugi several years ago. Kintsugi is a Japanese method of mending a favorite piece of broken pottery with real gold powder mixed with lacquer or resin. The heart will be a representation of all of our hearts. Though life will break and shatter us time and time again we always have the opportunity to heal, like the broken pottery, in a way that leaves us both more beautiful and more interesting than whatever hardships broke us. Not everyone will. Some will hold onto the grief and anger that accompany loss. But if we can learn to confront and process the pain, replace grief with gratitude, and the anger with an open and fearless heart that is when hardships can become lessons that help us evolve and move us closer to finding contentment within our lives.”

Displayed at: Grand Central Market & Deli, 57 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids


Hometown: Lakeview

Previously entered ArtPrize: No

Background: None provided.

Title of entry: “Duped”

Medium: Papier-mâché

Description: “‘Duped’ represents the familiar theme of the donkey and carrot. If the donkey expends his time and energy now for the benefit of the con man, he’s promised a tantalizing reward in the future, but the reward is always just out of reach, always unattainable.”

Displayed at: Studio D2D – The Harris Building, 111 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids

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