ESCANABA - Artwork from 51 artists in the Upper Peninsula headed to Grand Rapids Tuesday for the annual ArtPrize competition.
Twenty-eight of the artists will be featured at a special U.P. Pavilion at the DeVos Place convention center.
"We're really making a presence at ArtPrize of Upper Peninsula artists. We have work from 51 artists traveling today in this u-haul to Grand Rapids to show the world what we have to offer here in the U.P., said Tiina Harris, director of the Marquette Arts and Culture Center.
A group of artists and supporters held signs at the send off Tuesday night as the trailer was packed at the Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba. Musicians playing in the parking lot made it a festive occasion.
Earl Senchuk of Marquette helped pack the trailer, hauling artwork from inside the Bonifas. He heard about ArtPrize before but never considered entering the competition until U.P. Pavilion was announced this year. He considered it to be too far away.
"When Pasqua came in one day where I was working and she said, 'you know, we have a U.P. Pavilion and it's at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids for ArtPrize.' I said, 'I'll be there.' I definitely want to be a part of that," he said.
Peg Sandin of Ironwood was holding a sign at the send off that read, "U.P. Storms G.R." She was excited to see her painting of agates on Lakes Superior to be packed on the trailer with the other boxes.
"I was glad to see it get on the trailer, she said. "There's a lot of pieces, some very big pieces. I'm anxious to see them on display."
Pasqua Wastler, artistic director at the Bonifas, said the group presence at ArtPrize is a great opportunity to promote the Upper Peninsula.
"It's significant to be a part of a group on an international stage so that others from outside the U.P. can see that we are a distinctly unique arts and culture region," Warstler said.
The goal, she said, is to encourage people to visit the U.P. She's hoping the U.P. Pavilion will make a statement about the peninsula's art community.
ArtPrize runs from Sept. 21 to Oct. 9.