Lowell is home to more than antique shops, a historic downtown and a beautiful view of the Flat River. It also has an arts scene that is hard to rival, thanks to the work of LowellArts. “It has been the support of the Lowell community that has allowed the organization to flourish over the years,” explains Janet Teunis, project director for LowellArts.
That support has led the non-profit to be able to host the West Michigan Art Competition for the past 31 years. While every year has hosted great artwork, the 2017 competition has been one for the record books.
“Because of the increased gallery size of the new [Main Street location], the competition was able to expand to include artists from more West Michigan counties this year, from 15 counties to 25 counties this year,” Teunis says. All told, a record-high 421 pieces were entered by 237 artists. Juror Nichole Maury, an associate professor at Western Michigan University, whittled that number down to 182 pieces by 143 artists.
Those pieces are still on display at the LowellArts galley, but you only have a few more weeks to see them. After April 15, 2017, the competition art will be taken down to make way for a new display.
Winners of the 31st Annual West Michigan Art Competition
In addition to selecting the art to be displayed, Maury also choose the winning pieces. They were announced on March 9th in conjunction with the Gallery Hop, an event now in its third year. “The idea behind the Gallery Hop is to encourage event goers to experience what Lowell has to offer, by visiting other galleries and restaurants in downtown Lowell,” Teunis says.
The LowellArts gallery was packed that night, and here’s who was selected for the top honors.
1st Place — Michael Ver Merris, Grand Rapids
Vessel LXXVII, Raku
2nd Place — Joshua Clark, Middleville
Elephant, Cut Wood
3rd Place — Todd Maertz, Muskegon
4th Place — Douglas Klemm, Jenison
Blueberries in Autumn, Oil
5th Place — Colleen Woolpert, Kalamazoo
Planet of the Blind, Mixed Media
The top five artists split cash awards worth $2,000. Another five pieces were selected for honorable mention recognitions. They were awarded to the following:
Randi Ford, Grand Rapids
Honesty is Key, Oil
Lee Ann Frame, Fruitport
Traveling Marbles I, Intaglio & Woodblock Relief
Gavin Mooney, Grand Rapids
Unreachable, Graphite & Charcoal
Kathleen Mooney, Lowell
Making Pies, Acrylic on Panel
Tom Terry, Grand Rapids
Redoubt, Charcoal on Paper
Lowell Graduate Nabs 2nd Place
Lowell was well-represented in the art competition with local artists such as Bruce Doll and Jeri Teelander having works on display. Kathleen Mooney, well-known for her abstract paintings, also earned an honorable mention for her entry Making Pies.
Another winner with a Lowell connection is Joshua Clark. Although now a Middleville resident, Clark was a 1993 graduate from Lowell High School, where he was voted “Most Artistic” by his classmates. A patent illustrator by day, Clark was inspired to make cut wood art after a tour of Geek Group on W. Leonard opened his eyes to the artistic possibilities presented by the machinery there.
For his second-place winning piece, Elephant, Clark took a 75-pound piece of plywood and poured in 100 hours of work, creating an intricate design that required him to hand sand all the cuts. “The Elephant is named after the fact,” he says, explaining he didn’t set out to create an elephant motif. Instead, it came about naturally as he was designing the work. “I prefer it upside down,” he says, “but everyone else prefers it this way.” When flipped Clark says the work reminds him of a rhino.
While he placed in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival as a sophomore at Lowell High School, Clark has only recently begin entering art competitions as an adult. However, he has been met with early success. In addition to winning second place at this year’s West Michigan Art Competition, he also was in the top 25 for 2D design at ArtPrize.
Like many of the pieces entered in the competition, Elephant is for sale. Clark says it has been finished in such a way that it could be suitably displayed either inside or outside.
When and Where to See the Art
Ready to see the winners for yourself? You can stop by LowellArts at 223 W. Main St. during gallery hours to browse at your leisure.
- Tuesday-Friday: 10am-6pm
- Saturday: 10am-5pm
- Sunday: Closed
“The West Michigan Art Competition has become a well-respected over the years, one that many artists enter every year,” Teunis says.
Don’t miss your chance to see the artwork up close.