Bordering on Ordinary
by Colette Finney
The “MI Arts 2015: All Michigan All Media Visual Arts Competition” opened August 20th at the Holland Area Arts Council in downtown Holland. Juror Lisa Walcott, had the daunting task of selecting from 200 works submitted by more than 80 artists, culling more than 60% of the submissions to 74 examples. Walcott is a Midwest-based installation artist and kinetic sculptor, and given her credentials, the experimental nature of her work, and the fact that the show was open to “all media”, viewers may be surprised that the resulting exhibit features a lot conventional painting, photography, and sculpture.
There are certainly some noteworthy examples. Wolcott chose a number of exceptional printmaking creations showcasing very imaginative individual styles like Prerequisite to a Murder by Andre Jagniecki and, Botanical Garden by Lee Ann Frame, both award recipients. But, I have to pick the pair, Recount I and Recount II, by Grand Rapids printmaker Cindi Ford as the ultimate standouts of the entire exhibit. Using a magical combo of Moku Hanga woodblock, linoleum cut, letterpress, and collage, I was surprised neither claimed any awards. With clever backgrounds, funny text, unique details, and perfect image placement, I found myself gladly lost within the story of each print.
Hidden on a wall around the corner, I also found a delightful copper sculpture entitled Sunflower #7, by Daryl Bruischat, casting a cool interpretation of a sunflower springing from an abstract landscape. Another lasting impression for me was the haunting photograph Water for Trees, depicting a flooded forest of wooden reflections by Dianne Carroll Burdick.
Other artistry that drew my undivided attention was Cindy Bender’s, Pacific Coast Spray, a watercolor on Yupo paper, which presented an intriguing manipulation of color, and water so believable, I felt as if I should have brought an umbrella to shield myself from the ocean mist. And as always, I marvel at the remarkable oil paintings from Alla Dickson Born to be Wild, and Doug Klemm Colorado Sky, who paint with an endless richness of color and depth.
The HAAC has succeeded in creating an eclectic variety of very captivating exhibitions this past year, but if you’re anticipating a show that shines as brightly as “Elemental Transformations” for example, you may be slightly disappointed. Absent were the fresh views and ingenuity of last years’ first place winner, by Jane Ewing, In the Company of Ravens.
I cannot help but wonder if it might be better in future competitions for more than one juror to judge the pieces such as in 2014 to allow for a bolder and more well-rounded show. It is certainly worth mentioning that this is only the fifth year of the “MI Arts” juried exhibition, compared to Festival of the Arts, which has a 46 year history, or the Muskegon Museum of Art’s regional juried exhibition which just finished its 87th year. “MI Arts” is still in its infancy, and will continue to grow and attract more artists and visitors in the ensuing years.
“MI Arts 2015: All Michigan All Media Visual Arts Competition” is open through October 23.
For more information, contact the HAAC at (616) 396-3278 or online at hollandarts.org.
The Holland Area Arts Council
150 East 8th Street
Holland, Michigan 49423
Hours of operation: