Artists set for ArtPrize, sneak peek

Haley Gustafson/Daily Press Photo Pasqua Warstler, right, executive and gallery director for the Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba, speaks during a press conference Friday about the ArtPrize competition held annually in Grand Rapids. New this year will be sneak peak of the U.P. art that will be featured at the competition at the Center for the Arts on Mackinac Island. Philip Rice, gallery director for the Center for the Arts, left, said he is looking forward to working with the Bonifas to showcase U.P. art.

By Haley Gustafson

For The Daily News

ESCANABA — Twenty artists from around the Upper Peninsula will have the chance to showcase their works at the Acton Institute during ArtPrize 2017 in Grand Rapids in September. Prior to ArtPrize, the U.P. artists will also be featured on Mackinac Island for a sneak peek showing at the end of August.

“The Bonifas Arts Center is happy to announce its second round at ArtPrize,” said Pasqua Warstler, executive and gallery director at the Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba during a press conference Friday afternoon. “We’ve been working with arts organizations and artists throughout the U.P. and working to bring a U.P. presence to ArtPrize.”

During the press conference, Warstler announced that this year there will be a sneak preview of the U.P. art work that will be making its way down to ArtPrize. The art work will first be featured on Mackinac Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point Resort. Philip Rice, gallery director for the Center for the Arts, said he is looking forward to working with the Bonifas on showcasing U.P. art work.

“We are really excited to be collaborating with the Bonifas,” said Rice. “One of our main goals as the arts council on Mackinac Island is to find ways to help the arts and culture bring in people to the island.”

Rice added that as part of this goal, the arts council also hopes this will bring people from upper and lower peninsulas together, which ties into the name of the project “U.P. Art: Crossing the Straits.”

ArtPrize is an annual competition in downtown Grand Rapids that showcases art from all around the world. Warstler explained all forms of art are eligible for the competition, which offers grand prizes of $250,000 each.

The U.P. Pavilion this year will be located in the Acton Institute, a historic building located in ArtPrizes’ Heartside District. The venue has reserved both indoor and outdoor space exclusively for U.P. artists, explained Warstler.

One of the artists that was featured in ArtPrize last year, Darlene Strand, also spoke about her experience in the competition and why being a part of ArtPrize helps bring awareness to the artistic culture that is scattered throughout the U.P.

“Being a part of ArtPrize last year in the city of Grand Rapids was fantastic, and I’m so thrilled for the artists this year who will be in it,” said Strand. Strand will also be volunteering her time to help the Bonifas crew and U.P. artists make their way downstate.

According to Warstler, being able to bring U.P. art down to an international competition gives the region a chance to showcase all of the culture within it.

“We want people to see that the U.P. is a distinct arts and cultural district,” said Warstler. “We want them to search out and find all of our U.P. artists.”

Out of the 1,400 artists that participated in ArtPrize last year, Warstler said five Upper Peninsula artists made into the top 100 choices in the first round of voting.

“That was a huge success,” said Warstler. “We’re kind of steaming forward for another successful year.”

The sneak peek at the Center for the Arts on Mackinac Island will begin on Aug. 20 and will continue until Sept. 9. ArtPrize kicks-off on Sept. 20 and art will be showcased through the event until Oct. 8.