Rockford man is co-creator of top 10 ArtPrize entry receiving national media attention

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

by Cindy M. Cranmer A Rockford man is one of the co-creators of an ArtPrize entry being discussed locally and internationally after thousands and thousands of participants and spectators gathered Friday night to help Mark Carpenter and Dan Johnson realize their vision for ArtPrize and landing their entry in the top 10. Dan Johnson, of Rockford, and Mark Carpenter, of Grand Rapids, both felt the event was an extreme success with more than 50,000 people in attendance. Round two of ArtPrize voting opened on Sunday, Sept. 30 and runs through Thursday, Oct. 4. ArtPrize attendees can vote for one of the top 10 entries with the code to vote for Lights in the Night being 52910. See related story on the top 10 ArtPrize entries. The theme of Lights in the Night is to symbolize where hope takes flight in the form of sky lanterns representing individual hopes, dreams and wishes. More than 15,000 Chinese sky lanterns were launched from coordinated key points in the downtown Grand Rapids area on Friday, Sept. 28. “You offer up your dreams and hopes for the future or even reconcile events of your past in a symbolic lantern launch,” the entry described. Being at this event Friday night, this reporter was able to experience Lights in the Night firsthand. The sense of community, the emotional outpouring of feelings and the awe of seeing the lanterns in the sky was amazing. While words such as “magical,” “beautiful,” “wonderful,” “amazing,” “enchanting” and “inspiring” were used to describe the launch, it is much harder to put in words the sense of community and the overflowing of emotions at the event. The event made a last impression, which was the goal, Johnson said. Some have criticized Lights in the Night as the event skyrocketed in a 24-hour period through the ratings bypassing the top 100 and the top 50 on its climb to the top 25 and then to the top 10. Johnson told The Rockford Squire the key components of ArtPrize are to “get out of the box” and find something that is art but is not as traditional, to involve the community and to leave a lasting impression. “It was super successful on all three of those accounts,” Johnson said. “Our […]

Three Rockford artists impact Grand Rapids ArtPrize

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

by Cindy M. Cranmer Rockford watercolor artist showcases moose print Bright colors and larger sizes often attract people to ArtPrize entries. A Rockford watercolor artist has both going for her in her 2012 entry. LeAnne Mawby Sowa uses her unique watercolor style, which uses colorful washes and bold details to show off her artwork. “The small painting Moose Bath has been one of my most popular paintings. I’ve sold quite a few prints and I’ve gotten lots of smiles and laughs from people who see it,” Sowa said. “This inspired me to create a larger than life painting similar to it.” Moose Bath II consists of nine panels, which are stretched watercolor paper on foam board and attached to each other to make a seven foot by nine and a half foot painting. This is the fourth year that Sowa has had an entry in ArtPrize. Sowa is a self-taught artist but has enhanced her natural talent through attending various professional workshops and college classes. One opportunity she enjoyed was studying in England while residing there with her family. After pursuing a degree in mechanical drafting and several years of drafting, Sowa wanted to “get back to my creative roots and become a fine artist.” Sowa, a member of the Rogue River Artist Association of Rockford and the Pentwater Art Club, is now a full-time artist with artwork displayed at Our Gallery of Pentwater, the Frame and Mat Shop in Rockford, E3 in Rockford, the Eclectic Gallery in Ionia and the Saugatuck Artists Collective. “This has been such a popular print that I decided to go big for ArtPrize,” Sowa said. “This is the biggest thing I have ever done.” Sowa, who has been working on the piece since May, hopes that someone will purchase Moose Bath II for display somewhere that children could appreciate it such as at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “That will make me feel good,” she said. “ArtPrize is so much fun. I love being a part of it. It gets you a lot of exposure as an artist,” Sowa said. The size and bright colors of her 2012 entry are definitely drawing attention to Moose Bath II. The approximately 30-foot by 40-foot oil painting by Linda Bassford, appropriately titled Dog […]

ArtPrize a statement about faith and abortion

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

Rockford resident Patrick Keeley said he doesn’t care how his Artprize piece scores with judges or where it ends up in the final vote—he just wants to send a message. The image he has installed at 300 Fulton is a life-death image that represents his pro-life beliefs. “The reason we made the art is to defend the rights of the unborn who are being selected to be aborted,” he stated. “Our piece is about the Creator and how the ‘creation’ is connected.  In our piece, all creation is hanging from a cross that is nailed to a nine-foot tall Jewish “Shin” which symbolizes God the Creator.” The piece, titled “all creation” is symbolized by a colorful heart with a mom holding a baby inside.  This piece is on display outdoors 24/7 at 300 Fulton (at the intersection of LaFayette).

Rockford photographer captures unique image for ArtPrize entry

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Cindy M. Cranmer A Rockford artist and participant at ArtPrize is among those giving hands-on demonstrations at the venue where her work is displayed. Stacy Niedzwiecki, a graphic designer and photographer, enjoys photographing nature. Niedzwiecki has earned numerous awards for her work and has been published. Niedzwiecki’s third and current entry focuses on her From the Shores collection. The photography collection features “unique, new images captured not only from the Great Lakes but from streams, rivers, inland lakes and may include important flora and fauna naturally found in these locations.” Her ArtPrize entry was taken on Sept. 1 at Ludington State Park. “The unusual cloud formations were a result of the remnants of Hurricane Isaac as the northern edge of the weather system passed over the Great Lakes,” she said. While Niedzwiecki spent an art residency and the summer months concentrating on “seeking unique perspectives and objects discovered literally ‘from the water’s edge’,” she could not resist the image taken in early September as her entry. “The sky was just amazing. I knew it was a short time, but that had to be my entry,” she said of her ArtPrize choice. Niedzwiecki’s work can be purchased at her ArtPrize venue, which is Peaches Bed and Breakfast at 29 Gay Ave. SE, or through her website. The website is Niedzwiecki has spent 25 years in graphic design. She has been a photographer for about eight years focusing on travel, nature and event photography. Her work has been featured in the MI Blue magazine and for such projects as hospital design work. There were 64 of her photographs used at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion. “That was really a life changing experience for me,” Niedzwiecki said. A book was produced based on that work, which was titled Healing Images – A Selection from the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion. She also was one of 10 artists selected as part of a book that was developed for Pure Michigan. Niedzwiecki was an artist selected for the residency program at ISLAND, which stands for the Institute for Sustainable Living and Natural Design. As part of her time in Bellaire, Niedzwiecki was able to stay in a beautiful log cabin for almost two weeks taking nature photographs. Niedzwiecki said she loves […]

Rockford group to submit entry, perform at ArtPrize

September 13, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A Rockford woman is working to turn her dream into reality with an ArtPrize performance that will feature 90 area singers as well as a song entry the public can vote on at the event. ArtPrize, which runs this year from September 19 to October 7, was founded in 2009 and has been restructured over the last four years but still features the world’s largest art prize along with being the largest art competition to decide its awards by public vote. There will be 16 prizes totaling $550,000 that will be distributed in 2012. Of this amount, $350,000 will be decided by a direct vote of attending visitors and $200,000 by a panel of jurors. The top public vote awards will be for $200,000 for first, $75,000 for second, $50,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth through 10th places. For more information on ArtPrize, visit “It is my dream to organize a 90-voice choir from the Rockford community to perform at ArtPrize 2012,” said Renee Vande Wege, Rockford Community Choir director. Members of local church choirs, professional singers, high school choir members or individuals who have a singing talent but are not currently involved in any group all are welcome to join the Rockford Community Choir for the performance. “We’re excited. We’re probably a little nervous. We’re feeling all the things you feel before you perform,” she said. The choir that is being put together features a gamut of voices from a fifth-grader through a 75-year-old area resident. Vande Wege took over conducting the Rockford Community Choir from Kayle Clements, a local composer. The ArtPrize entry the public can vote on will be a piece that the Rockford Area Arts Commission commissioned Clements to write. The vote code is 53416. Two Roads is a four-part a capella piece that will be performed at St. Cecilia Music Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. A four-person recording will showcase the entry so the public can vote when the group is not performing. Two Roads uses the text of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Vande Wege said. “The idea for this song evolved out of my life journey this past year and my desire to draw together the multitude of […]

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