Local artists hold discussion at Studio 23 on being an artist

By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor

BAY CITY – The Great Lakes Bay Region has a legacy of art and a rich history of artists that includes names we hear in art history books, like Alden B. Dow, Irving Couse and Jim Shaw.

The 50 Artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region exhibition hosted at Studio 23 in Bay City was formed with the intention of celebrating the artists currently working in the Mid-Michigan area and giving them a platform to spotlight their artwork. Any artist living and working in the area was eligible to apply.

“I saw the opportunity – the culmination – of broadcasting the art and culture of this region. The idea was to get the top artists in the area and create this exhibition that showcases the caliber of artists we have,” says Avram Golden, an artist featured in the exhibition as well as being an instrumental figure in starting the 50 Artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region project.

Ninety-one artists entered to be considered for the exhibition, and the jury had the difficult task of selecting only 50 of them. Eleven of the 50 artists were scheduled to speak on a panel hosted at Studio 23 on Nov. 11. The panel was comprised of Larry Butcher, Sara Clark, Avram Golden, Pamela Hart, Emmy Heger, Rosemary Kavanagh, Debra LaRocque, Jim Matherne, Mark Piotrowski and Roger Reichmann.

“You’re seeing a lot of types of art that you don’t really see in this area in one place,” says Allen.

The idea for the 50 Artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region started two year ago as a way to bring attention to the talent and artists in Mid-Michigan. The juried exhibition showcases visual artists from the eight counties that make up the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“We’ve been very happy with the response to the exhibition and the events. Both of the speaker panels have had full rooms of people for them and the opening night of the exhibition had over 300 people coming out in support of it,” says Valerie Allen, Studio 23 curator.

Allen began the panel by giving an introduction to the exhibit and explaining the question-and-answer format of the event. The questions posed to the artists chased after each artist’s definition of creativity, how they came to think of themselves as artists and also asking them to describe their creative process.

“When I got the question, I thought to myself, ‘When was I not an artist?’ Being an artist has really been my identity all along,” says Butcher, exhibition artist and Delta College emeritus.

This support has made it possible for the 50 Artists of the Great Lakes Bay Region to become a bi-annual event, with the next one planned for 2019. Still left as part of this year’s exhibition is the closing reception for the exhibition on Nov. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. Before the reception, there will be a group of 11 exhibition artists performing demonstrations on how they create their work from 3 to 5 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information visit Studio 23 online at www.studio23baycity.org

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